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Abstract

Until recently, Festuca arietina was practically an unknown species in the flora of Eastern Europe. Such a situation can be treated as a consequence of insufficient studying of Festuca valesiaca group species in Eastern Europe and misinterpretation of the volume of some taxa. As a result of a complex study of F arietina populations from the territory of Ukraine (including the material from locus classicus), Belarus and Lithuania, original anatomy, morphology and molecular data were obtained. These data confirmed the taxonomical status of F arietina as a separate species. Eleven morphological and 12 anatomical characters, ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 cluster of nuclear ribosomal genes, as well as the models of secondary structure of ITS1 and ITS2 transcripts were studied in this approach. It was found for the first time that F arietina is hexaploid (6x = 42), which is distinguished from all the other narrow-leaved fescues by specific leaf anatomy as well as in ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 sequences. Molecular data indicating possible hybridogenous origin of F arietina, fall in line with the anatomical-morphological data and explain the tendency toward sclerenchyma strands fusion with formation of a continuous ring in F arietina, as well as E arietina ecological confinement to psammophyte biotopes.
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