Conservation genetics of relict tropical species of Magnolia (section Macrophylla)
AbstractSpecial conservation efforts should be made for relict species, as they usually have small population sizes and restricted distributions, placing them in critical extinction risk. To achieve conservation, information about genetic diversity distribution is needed. Here, using nine nuclear microsatellites, we analyzed 23 populations of five recently described species of Magnolia distributed in Mexico, which were previously assigned to Magnolia dealbata. We aimed to determine the level of
... genetic diversity and the distribution of genetic variation and proposed conservation measures. Compared to other endemic and relict species, we found a moderate level of genetic diversity in most populations; however, we identified two populations with no genetic variation. Additionally, we found evidence of positive values of inbreeding likely due to geitonogamy. We found a strong population structure, low effective population size, and no evidence of bottlenecks. Patterns of genetic differentiation did not support the morphological distinction of five species, so we hypothesized that the gene pools may instead represent well-differentiated populations of a single species. We argue that the pattern of genetic differentiation is explained by the natural fragmentation of the cloud forests after glaciation events, and the effects of genetic drift in small populations poorly connected by gene flow. Despite the moderate levels of genetic diversity, special attention is needed to guarantee conservation, with emphasis on the populations in the central region of the country as well as the valuable populations identified in the southwestern region.