Assessment of the domestication state of ackee (Blighia sapida K.D. Koenig) in Benin based on AFLP and microsatellite markers

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Ackee (Blighia sapida) is a native multipurpose species important for the livelihoods of the rural populations in Benin. Trees are found in natural forests or are managed by farmers in different traditional agroforestry systems. Genetic variation at amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers, four nuclear microsatellites (nSSRs) and one chloroplast microsatellite (cpSSR) were investigated in 279 individuals from six wild and eight cultivated populations from Benin. The AFLP data revealed moderate levels of diversity of ackee in Benin (mean diversity values are proportion of polymorphic loci = 52.8% and Nei's gene diversity = 0.157, for 375 AFLP fragments). The mean diversity values based on nSSR-markers are expected heterozygosity = 0.286, allelic richness = 2.77. Genetic variation of wild and cultivated populations did not differ markedly. AMOVA revealed that only 7.3 and 5.2% of the variation was partitioned among populations for nSSR- and AFLP-markers, respectively. A Mantel test based on these both marker-types revealed significant correlations between population pairwise geographic distance and genetic differentiation. Differentiation among cultivated populations was higher than among wild populations. The only polymorphic chloroplast microsatellite marker (ccmp7) showed three haplotypes. Cultivated populations from northeastern Benin were fixed on one haplotype which was not observed elsewhere indicating a different origin of these populations possibly from neighboring Nigeria. Farmer-led domestication had an impact on the spatial distribution of genetic variation but did not result in significant losses of diversity within populations. Measures to conserve genetic resources of ackee in each of the three main bioclimatic zones in Benin are proposed. © 2010 The Author(s).

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Conservation Genetics