Ramonda serbica Panč. (Gesneriaceae) is an endangered endemic species of the Balkan Peninsula which has been the subject of several studies in the past, but has not yet been investigated in terms of its genetic variation. Ramonda serbica is one of only five European representatives of the mainly subtropical family Gesneriaceae categorized as paleoendemics or Tertiary relicts sequestered in southern Europe by Quaternary climate oscillations. Here, an inter simple sequence repeat (ISSR) analysis was performed to determine the genetic diversity of five populations sampled from the geographically eastern fringe of its range in northwestern Bulgaria. We found relatively low levels of genetic diversity and significant genetic differentiation among the investigated populations, typical of a leading edge scenario. From a conservation point of view, the low genetic diversity, together with the presence of only few extant localities stress the need for urgent in situ and ex situ conservation actions to ensure the long-term survival of R. serbica in Bulgaria.
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