Aubrieta columnae Guss. is currently divided into three subspecies: A. columnae subsp. columnae, A. columnae subsp. italica, both found as isolated and fragmented populations in rocky habitats of Central and Southern Apennines (Italy), and A. columnae subsp. croatica found in the Balkan region. In order to gain information about the degree of genetic variability and to clarify taxonomic relationships among these taxa, we studied the isozyme patterns at 8 marker loci of 376 individuals from 8 populations by means of starch gel electrophoresis. Data analysis by using Wright's F-statistics and UPGMA clustering method was performed. The results show: 1) a general deviation from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium within each subspecies; 2) a lesser genetic variation in populations occurring in habitats characterized by milder climatic conditions and relatively small seasonal variations; 3) a relatively high degree of differentiation between the three subspecies; 4) the possible common transadriatic origin of A. columnae subsp. italica and A. columnae subsp. croatica; 5) the possible origin of A. columnae subsp. columnae from A. columnae subsp. italica; and 6) that the current taxonomic status of A. columnae may be substantially confirmed, even if the findings are from a limited number of loci explored.
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