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Population genetic structure of rare and endangered plants using molecular markers

February 5, 2013

This study was initiated to assess the levels of genetic diversity and differentiation in the remaining populations of Phyllostegia stachyoides and Melicope zahlbruckneri in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park and determine the extent of gene flow to identify genetically distinct individuals or groups for conservation purposes. Thirty-six Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphic (AFLP) primer combinations generated a total of 3,242 polymorphic deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) fragments in the P. stachyoides population with a percentage of polymorphic bands (PPB) ranging from 39.3 to 65.7% and 2,780 for the M. zahlbruckneri population with a PPB of 18.8 to 64.6%. Population differentiation (Fst) of AFLP loci between subpopulations of P. stachyoides was low (0.043) across populations. Analysis of molecular variance of P. stachyoides showed that 4% of the observed genetic differentiation occurred between populations in different kīpuka and 96% when individuals were pooled from all kīpuka. Moderate genetic diversity was detected within the M. zahlbruckneri population. Bayesian and multivariate analyses both classified the P. stachyoides and M. zahlbruckneri populations into genetic groups with considerable sub-structuring detected in the P. stachyoides population. The proportion of genetic differentiation among populations explained by geographical distance was estimated by Mantel tests. No spatial correlation was found between genetic and geographic distances in both populations. Finally, a moderate but significant gene flow that could be attributed to insect or bird-mediated dispersal of pollen across the different kīpuka was observed. The results of this study highlight the utility of a multi-allelic DNA-based marker in screening a large number of polymorphic loci in small and closely related endangered populations and revealed the presence of genetically unique groups of individuals in both M. zahlbruckneri and P. stachyoides populations. Based on these findings, approaches that can assist conservation efforts of these species are proposed. 

Publication Year 2013
Title Population genetic structure of rare and endangered plants using molecular markers
Authors Jennifer Raji, Carter T. Atkinson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Report
Series Title Technical Report
Series Number HCSU-036
Index ID 70044216
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center