A review on QST–FST comparisons of seed plants: Insights for conservation

Mi Yoon Chung, Juha Merilä, Yuseob Kim, Kangshan Mao, Jordi López-Pujol, Myong Gi Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Increased access to genome-wide data provides new opportunities for plant conservation. However, information on neutral genetic diversity in a small number of marker loci can still be valuable because genomic data are not available to most rare plant species. In the hope of bridging the gap between conservation science and practice, we outline how conservation practitioners can more efficiently employ population genetic information in plant conservation. We first review the current knowledge about neutral genetic variation (NGV) and adaptive genetic variation (AGV) in seed plants, regarding both within-population and among-population components. We then introduce the estimates of among-population genetic differentiation in quantitative traits (QST) and neutral markers (FST) to plant biology and summarize conservation applications derived from QST–FST comparisons, particularly on how to capture most AGV and NGV on both in-situ and ex-situ programs. Based on a review of published studies, we found that, on average, two and four populations would be needed for woody perennials (n = 18) to capture 99% of NGV and AGV, respectively, whereas four populations would be needed in case of herbaceous perennials (n = 14). On average, QST is about 3.6, 1.5, and 1.1 times greater than FST in woody plants, annuals, and herbaceous perennials, respectively. Hence, conservation and management policies or suggestions based solely on inference on FST could be misleading, particularly in woody species. To maximize the preservation of the maximum levels of both AGV and NGV, we suggest using maximum QST rather than average QST. We recommend conservation managers and practitioners consider this when formulating further conservation and restoration plans for plant species, particularly woody species.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9926
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • adaptive variation
  • conservation
  • genetic diversity
  • herbaceous plants
  • neutral variation
  • woody species


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