Publication in: Fall 2023 Issue

Patterns of genetic diversity in a large, isolated population of American ginseng in western North Carolina
Anna Joel
Author Email:
Faculty Mentor(s):
Jennifer Ward
Abstract / Summary:
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L) is a long-lived understory plant in the Araliaceae family. The genus Panax has been in use in eastern medicine for thousands of years and has chemical and morphological properties that make collecting wild P. quinquefolius very profitable. Overharvesting, habitat loss, and herbivory can decrease genetic diversity, devastating populations of American Ginseng. Genetic testing was performed on leaflet samples (N = 163) collected from a large, robust population in Buncombe County, NC, chosen because it is hypothesized to be more diverse than others in the region. DNA was extracted from the samples and was PCR amplified for further testing of seven microsatellite loci. Data were compared to values from 11 other regional populations using the polysat package in R; differences among populations were measured using principal component analysis, and allelic and genotypic frequencies were also estimated. The principal component analysis showed that the focal population was genetically distinct from other populations and had high levels of interpopulation diversity. This population also had the highest allelic and genotypic diversity of the 12 tested, supporting the initial hypothesis. The high genetic diversity of this population makes it a conservation priority. It might also be useful as a source of seeds for restoration or augmentation.
Publication Date: