, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 217-229

Conservation genetics of an endangered rainforest tree (Fontainea oraria – Euphorbiaceae) and implications for closely related species

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Abstract

Four new eastern Australian Fontainea species have beenrecently described and all have a limited distribution. F.oraria is the rarest, being restricted to 10 adult individualswithin a single site in regrowth littoral rainforest. In order todevelop adequate management strategies, this study was aimed atsurveying the genetic variability remaining within the species by usingRAPD analysis. To assist with the correct interpretation of the results,a matching study was conducted on four populations of the closelyrelated F. australis. Similar amounts of within-populationgenetic diversity were recorded for both species. The RAPD-based studysuggested that adult plants are contributing unevenly to successivegenerations. RAPD analysis also recognised a close evolutionaryrelationship between F. oraria and F. australis.Sequencing of cpDNA (trnL-F) and nrDNA (ITS2) regions,confirmed recent divergence and possibly some historical reticulationbetween these two species and two other members of the genus. Ofparticular interest was the recognition that one of the F.australis populations (Limpinwood) represented a novel genotypiccombination in need of conservation attention. The implications of theRAPD and sequencing results are discussed in reference to theirinfluence upon the development of adequate conservation strategies forall important conservation units.