Preliminary study for reintroducing the endemic quillwort Isoetes malinverniana Cesati et De Notaris in Italy.
Thomas Abeli, Elena Barni, Chiara Minuzzo, Graziano Rossi, Rodolfo Gentili, Cecilia Amosso and Consolata Siniscalco
The quillwort Isoetes malinverniana is one of the most threatened plant species in Europe. It survives in a small portion of the plain of the River Po (N-Italy) in 12 populations affected by intensive agricultural activities. Its range decreased of 80% in the last forty years. For these reasons I. malinverniana is listed in the European Directive 92/43 “Habitat” with conservation priority. In 2009, the University of Pavia, Turin and Milan (Bicocca) conduced a study on ecology and genetic diversity to get information about the causes of reduction of I. malinverniana. This study represents the first step toward the reintroduction of the quillwort in new canals and channels inside protected areas. All the populations were investigated from the ecological point of view and data on sediment and water quality were collected also in 8 “control” canals from where the species disappeared in the last decade. Genetic analyses were conducted in 7 populations with I-SSR and AFLP molecular markers techniques. From the comparison between growing sites and control channels seems that I. malinverniana is sensitive to the water turbidity due to biological activity and to the increased nutrient concentration into the water. Canal management is also a threat, because in some cases water supply is not guaranteed all around the year and digging activities cause the removal of spores and plants. The genetic diversity in I. malinverniana is quite high and it is higher within population than between populations. Reintroduction should take into account the ecological requirements of the species, so we are planning canals surveys inside some protected areas in the Po Plain to assess their water and soil quality. Plants for reintroduction should be taken from the most variable populations. We are also developing a protocol for reproducing the quillwort by in-vitro propagation.