Sinomenium acutum (Menispermaceae) is a traditional Chinese medicine. In recent years, extensive harvesting for medicinal purposes has resulted in a sharp decline in its population. Genetic information is crucial for the proper exploitation and conservation of Sinomenium acutum, but little is known about it at present. In this study, we analyzed 77 samples from 4 populations using four non-coding regions (atpI-atpH, trnQ-5’rps16, trnH-psbA, and trnL-trnF) of chloroplast DNA and 14 haplotypes (from C1 to C14) were identified. C1 and C3 were common haplotypes, which were shared by all populations, and C3 was an ancestral haplotype, the rest were rare haplotypes. Obvious phylogeographic structure was not existed inferred by GST / NST test. Mismatch distribution, Tajima’s D and Fu’s FS tests failed to support a rapid demographic expansion in Sinomenium acutum. AMOVA highlighted that the high level of genetic differentiation within population. Low genetic variation among populations illustrated gene flow was not restricted. Genetic diversity analyses demonstrated that the populations of Xuefeng, Dalou, and Daba Mountains were possible refugia localities of Sinomenium acutum. Based on this study, we proposed a preliminary protection strategy for it that C1, C3, C11 and C12 must be collected. These results offer an valuable and useful information for this species of population genetic study as well as further conservation.
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