AoB PLANTS

Genetic diversity and population structure of an extremely endangered species – the world’s largest Rhododendron

The flower of big tree rhododendron. Photo credit: Dr. Shen Shikang
The flower of big tree rhododendron. Photo credit: Dr. Shen Shikang

Comprehensive studies on the genetic diversity and structure of endangered species are urgently needed to promote effective conservation and management activities. A new study by Qin et al. published in AoB PLANTS is the first study of the genetic diversity and structure of the big tree rhododendron, Rhododendron protistum var. giganteum, which is a highly endangered species with only two known endemic populations in a small area in the southern part of Yunnan Province in China. Qin et al. detected moderate to high genetic diversity at the species level, but low genetic differentiation between the two extant populations. These results suggest that some rare and endangered species are able to maintain high levels of genetic diversity even at small population sizes.

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