Original Article

Panax ginseng natural populations: their past, current state and perspectives

Authors: Yuri N Zhuravlev, Olga G Koren, Galina D Reunova, Tamara I Muzarok, Tatiyana Yu Gorpenchenko, Irina L Kats, Yuliya A Khrolenko

Abstract

Aim: The mating system of Panax ginseng, genetics and ontogenetic structure of its natural populations of Primorye (Russia) were investigated.
Methods: Genetic diversity was assessed using allozyme and the fluorescently based automated amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers.
Results: Total genetic diversity at species level is low with allozyme assay (0.023), and high with AFLP (0.255) and SSR (0.259) methods. It is observed within populations according to allozyme (>99%), AFLP (>85%), and SSR (>73%) assays. The indices of genetic variability distribution point out the re-colonization of the Sikhote-Alin by ginseng plants from southern refuges during the warming period in the early Holocene. The capability of ginseng plants to cross- and self-pollinate was shown and the assumption that Panax ginseng is a facultative apomictic plant was confirmed. The reproductive system of ginseng possesses high plasticity and stability of the fertilization process that help the species to survive in stress conditions. Disturbances caused by external or internal factors can be reduced due to the morphogenetic potential of ginseng ovule or apomictic embryo development. Analysis of life stages structure of ginseng populations demonstrates that all of them are not full-constituents because some life stages are absent or occur rarely.
Conclusion: In all 3 populations, virgin and young generative individuals are predominant. This means that populations studied are viable and the reintroduction of natural ginseng population is possible yet.
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