Maintenance of genetic diversity in Cordia africana Lam., a declining forest tree species in Ethiopia

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We assessed genetic variation in a total of 22 populations of the tree species Cordia africana Lam. in Ethiopia and analyzed the country-wide impact of population history, forest disturbance and alteration of land use on extant intraspecific diversity. Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms (AFLPs) and chloroplast microsatellite markers were investigated. The analyses of the AFLP data revealed high diversity in all investigated populations: the percentage of polymorphic loci (PPL) ranged from 62.2% to 92.2% and Nei's gene diversity from 0.220 to 0.320 within the populations. The mean PPL and the mean diversity within populations were 85.7% and 0.287, respectively. The analysis of molecular variance revealed a moderate level of differentiation (ΦST = 0.07, p < 0.001) among the populations. The Mantel test proved a significant but low correlation (r = 0.31, p < 0.001) between the geographic distance and the genetic differentiation matrices. Only three different cpDNA haplotypes were observed; no more than two haplotypes were found in any population. The dominant haplotype with an overall frequency of 81% was observed in all populations. The level of differentiation among the populations was comparatively low at chloroplast DNA (GST = 0.18, RST, NST = 0.22). The observed patterns and levels of genetic variation within and among the populations indicate that efficient gene flow via pollen and seed is likely to be the main factor contributing to the maintenance of genetic diversity in natural and disturbed conditions. © 2010 The Author(s).

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Tree Genetics and Genomes