Genetic diversity and structure of natural populations of Plathymenia reticulata (Mimosoideae), a tropical tree from the Brazilian Cerrado


M. B. Lovato. Fax: + 55 31 34992567;


Plathymenia reticulata is a tropical tree native to the Brazilian Cerrado, one of the most important and endangered ecosystems in Brazil. This species presents high-quality wood and potential for recovery of degraded areas. Despite its importance, almost nothing is known about its genetic or ecological features. Random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were used to investigate the genetic diversity and structure of six natural populations of P. reticulata. DNAs from 117 adult individuals were amplified with 10 random primers and Shannon’s index and amova were used to evaluate the levels of genetic diversity within and among populations. Through 72 markers, 70.8% of which were polymorphic, it was possible to obtain 117 unique RAPD phenotypes. The levels of genetic variability found in the six populations of P. reticulata were considerable and most of the genetic variation was found between individuals within populations, although pairwise ΦST values indicated significant divergence between populations. The among-population component accounted for, respectively, 12.3% and 16% of the genetic variation, according to amova and Shannon’s index. These results were compared with other genetic studies on plant species and such a level of differentiation among populations corresponds to that which has usually been observed for outcrossing plants. The importance of maintenance of the P. reticulata populations and implications of the analysis of adult individuals, considering the longevity of this species and the relatively recent Cerrado fragmentation, are discussed.