, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 4-13
Date: 13 Mar 2010

Chloroplast DNA Polymorphism and Phylogeography of a Central African Tree Species Widespread in Mature Rainforests: Greenwayodendron suaveolens (Annonaceae)

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Geographic patterns of genetic variation at chloroplast markers have been successfully used to address the phylogeography and the demographic history of many plant species. Very few studies have however been conducted in important tropical centers of plant biodiversity like the African rainforests. The phylogeography of a tree species widespread in Central African mature forests, Greenwayodendron suaveolens subsp. suaveolens (Annonaceae), was investigated in the Lower Guinea phytogeographic domain (essentially Gabon and Cameroon) by sequencing an intergenic spacer of the chloroplast genome (trnC-petN1R). A total of 11 polymorphic sites, including nine single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), two insertions/deletions and two inversions, defined 12 haplotypes. The taxon is represented by two sympatric varieties (var. suaveolens and var. gabonica) that carried distinct and relatively divergent haplotypes. These varieties, also well distinguishable morphologically, might therefore represent true biological species. The variety suaveolens, more common and more widespread than the variety gabonica, was represented by ten haplotypes. This taxon showed a weak but statistically significant phylogeographic structure, indicating that two sets of related haplotypes essentially occurred respectively in the northern and the southern hemispheres. These results suggest that the distribution of Greenwayodendron suaveolens subsp. suaveolens, which is currently continuous in the Lower Guinea domain, might have been more fragmented in the past, possibly in relation with Pleistocene forest fragmentation.

Communicated by: Christopher Dick
DNA sequences presented in this paper have been deposited with the Genebank/EMBL libraries under accession numbers: GU121907-GU121918