Previous studies of Antarctic clonal moss populations using RAPD markers have reported
extraordinarily high levels of genetic variation. This has been claimed to reflect somatic mutation,
possibly resulting from elevated UV-B radiation.
Our study used microsatellite markers to compare the genetic variation present within continental
Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and temperate populations of the moss
In contrast to the RAPD studies, microsatellite data revealed that
continental Antarctica display less intra-population genetic diversity than populations from a
range of temperate and sub-Antarctic sites.
Analysis of molecular variation (
) revealed that populations within the Windmill Islands
region of Antarctica were more genetically differentiated than populations spread among more
widely separated temperate regions.
. Our data provide no evidence of elevated mutation rates in the Antarctic, and imply
climate change will present ongoing challenges for continental Antarctic moss populations that
appear weakly interconnected and with less potential than temperate populations to adapt to