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Bromus secalinus L. is an annual speirochoric species growing in agrocenoses of winter crops. In the past, B. secalinus L. could be found throughout Poland. The regression of the species has caused it to be classified as a rare species threatened with extinction. The study was conducted in the 2007-2010 time period, in north-eastern Poland where a considerable increase in the number of sites and abundance of B. secalinus were observed. The plant material was collected from agrocenoses of winter crops, at 14 sites representing the habitat diversity of the species occurrence. Eight morphological features were taken into account when evaluating populations of B. secalinus. The morphological diversity of the populations of B. secalinus was correlated with different habitat conditions (type, pH of soil and cultivated plant). The populations growing on the sites with optimum trophic and moisture conditions as well as those populations growing in very poor conditions were found to differ the most. A comparison of B. secalinus was done and six groups of cluster similarities were found using the agglomeration method Electrophoretic analysis of seed storage proteins of B. secalinus L from the studied populations were performed using SDS-PAGE. Analysis revealed relatively high genetic polymorphism irrespective of whether genetic variation was compared between the populations from different sites or between the subpopulations from only site number 4. Three homologenous groups were formed which were related to the cultivated plant coverage, and partially, to the type of soil. In the investigated populations and subpopulations, protein bands of molecular weight from 8 to 68 kDa were observed. The SDS-PAGE method was found suitable for the assessment of genetic variation in populations of B. secalinus L from many sites as well as within the subpopulations from one site.
A rapid decrease in floristic biodiversity of agrocenoses has been observed in Europe for a half of century. A dynamic intensification of processes of crop production is considered one of the major reasons for shrinking of occurrence acreage and population number, or even extinction of numerous species with narrow ecological niche and high sensitivity to herbicides. These unfavourable transformations contribute to the gene pool restriction and necessity of species conservation. A representative of that group of plants is Illecebrum verticillatum (Caryophyllaceae) - a rare species endangered due to extinction in many European countries. Results of a study on decline of communities with Illecebrum verticillatum at the most northeastward sites in the Kałuszyn Upland (Podlasie Lowland, Eastern Poland) are presented. Observations were made on permanent plots for three periods (I - the years 1994-1997, period II - the years 2002-2004 and period III - the years 2008-2010) over the last 17 years. The material studied consisted of 136 phytosociological releves made by Braun-Blanquet method. Changes in phytocenoses with Illecebrum verticillatum were analysed and the habitat factors responsible for regression of these phytocenoses were identified. The degree of endangering of Illecebrum verticillatum in the area studied was evaluated on the basis of the frequency of occurrence, population abundance and genetic variation at the level of storage proteins in seeds by the modified SDS-PAGE method. Comparison of phytocenoses from different periods revealed a number of qualitative and quantitative differences. The number of sites of occurrence as well as population abundance of Illecebrum verticillatum have drastically decreased. Changes in the contribution of indicatory species (according to Ellenberg) were noted. In periods II and III a decrease in the contribution of hygrophilous and acidophilous species and an increase in that of nitrophilous species was observed. Significant changes in the structure of communities were confirmed by the calculated similarity indices (the most pronounced differences were observed between periods I and III). The phytocenoses were transformed towards degraded floristic composition, manifested by a decrease in the number of species in a plot, decrease in species diversity and increase in the index of domination. A significant increase in pH and nitrogen content at the habitats studied was noted. The phytocenoses reveal a replacement of nitrophilous for the eurytopic species. The factors having the strongest restricting effect on the occurrence of communities with Illecebrum verticillatum in the areas studied include: changes in the structure of agricultural use of land, increase in the contribution of maize in the structure of crops and intensification of production. At present 6 sites with Illecebrum verticillatum remain in the study area about 260 km2 (Kałuszyn Upland, Central-eastern Poland). Electrophoretic analysis of storage proteins in seeds of this species from these sites has shown high genetic similarity of these populations, irrespective of the distances between them (0-19% diversity among six the remaining populations). The diminished genetic pool of Illecebrum verticillatum population in this area indicates a need for the protection of this species.
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