DOI: 10.3390/f15020224 ISSN: 1999-4907

A Study on the Genetic Variations and Germination Characteristics of Rhododendron sobayakiense to Prepare for Climate Change Threat

Eun-hye Kim, Sle-gee Lee, Sung-won Son, So-yeon Lee, Hayan Lee
  • Forestry

Rhododendron sobayakiense is an endemic and near-threatened species (Korean Red List, NT) found in the alpine regions of South Korea that requires conservation. This study investigated the species’ genetic variations and seed germination characteristics and predicted its potential habitat change according to climate change scenarios. The genetic diversity of R. sobayakiense at the species level (P = 88.6%; S.I. = 0.435; h = 0.282) was somewhat similar to that observed for the same genus. The inter-population genetic differentiation was 19% and revealed a relatively stable level of gene exchange at 1.22 in each population. The main cause of gene flow and genetic differentiation was presumed to be the Apis mellifera pollinator. Seed germination characteristics indicated non-deep physiological dormancy, with germination at ≥10 °C and the highest percent germination (PG) of ≥60% at 15–25 °C, while the PG was ≥50% at 30 °C. The PG increased at constant temperature than at variable temperatures; the mean germination time decreased as temperature increased. The climate scenarios SSP3 and SSP5 were analyzed to predict future R. sobayakiense habitat changes. The variables of the main effects were Identified as follows: elevation > temperature seasonality > mean diurnal range.

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