Range-wide Ex Situ Seed Conservation and Population Genetic Architecture Analysis in Venus Flytrap

Johnny Randall and Michael Kunz (North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and Jamie Winshell, Corbin D. Jones and Gregory P. Copenhaver (Department of Biology and Integrative Program for Biological & Genome Sciences,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Venus’ flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is the most widely recognized carnivorous plant, and endemic to only 100 km landward radius around Wilmington, North Carolina, USA. Although a few large populations occur on protected lands, the number of individuals is declining, entire populations are being extirpated, and a seemingly secure species is now vulnerable to local extinction and loss of wild genetic variation. We used Restriction site-Associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) to evaluate the genetic architecture of Venus flytrap populations across its entire range. In addition, we collected and banked over 25,000 seeds from 20 populations as a long-term conservation resource. Initial analysis of 160 RAD-seq derived markers indicate limited genetic variation within the first population sampled. Genetic variation was surprisingly heterogeneous across loci with some populations harboring appreciable variation and others harboring next to none. This initial analysis is ongoing for approximately 150 populations to provide a high-resolution assessment of the existing genetic variation, which will help guide future conservation efforts and understand species phylogeography.