Original Paper

Plant Ecology

, Volume 192, Issue 2, pp 169-179

First online:

Flexible mating system in a logged population of Swietenia macrophylla King (Meliaceae): implications for the management of a threatened neotropical tree species

  • Maristerra R. LemesAffiliated withLaboratório de Genética e Biologia Reprodutiva de Plantas, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da AmazôniaSchool of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling Email author 
  • , Dario GrattapagliaAffiliated withLaboratório de Genética de Plantas, EMBRAPA-Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia
  • , James GroganAffiliated withYale University School of Forestry and Environmental StudiesInstituto do Homem e Meio Ambiente da Amazônia (IMAZON)
  • , John ProctorAffiliated withSchool of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Stirling
  • , Rogério GribelAffiliated withLaboratório de Genética e Biologia Reprodutiva de Plantas, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia

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Microsatellites were used to evaluate the mating system of the remaining trees in a logged population of Swietenia macrophylla, a highly valuable and threatened hardwood species, in the Brazilian Amazon. A total of 25 open pollinated progeny arrays of 16 individuals, with their mother trees, were genotyped using eight highly polymorphic microsatellite loci. Genotypic data analysis from the progeny arrays showed that 373 out of the 400 seedlings (93.25%) were unambiguously the result of outcrossed matings and that the remaining 6.75% had genotypes consistent with self-fertilisation. Apomixis could be ruled out, since none of the 400 seedlings analysed had a multi-locus genotype identical to its mother tree. The high estimate of the multi-locus outcrossing rate (t m  = 0.938 ± 0.009) using the mixed mating model also indicated that the population in this remnant stand of S. macrophylla was predominantly allogamous. The relatively large difference between the multi-locus and single-locus outcrossing estimates (t m −t s  = 0.117 ± 0.011) provides evidence that, in spite of the high outcrossing rate, a considerable degree of biparental inbreeding has contributed to the genetic structure of this population. Levels of outcrossing were not evenly distributed among maternal trees (t m ranging from 0.39 to 1.00), suggesting the occurrence of a variable degree of self-incompatibility and/or dichogamy among individual trees of this monoecious species. Due to its generalist pollination system and some level of tolerance for selfing, S. macrophylla seems to be resilient to environmental disturbances such as those caused by logging, since it sets fruits with predominantly outcrossed seeds even at low stand densities. Therefore, the remaining individuals in logged areas or in relict fragments may be very important for long-term population recovery and genetic conservation programmes.


Amazon DNA microsatellites Genetic conservation Genetic diversity Mahogany Outcrossing