Conservation Genetics

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 213–223 | Cite as

Genetic isolation of Cape Verde Island Phoenix atlantica (Arecaceae) revealed by microsatellite markers

  • S. A. HendersonEmail author
  • N. Billotte
  • J.-C. Pintaud


Increasing human pressure on the environment in the isolated Macaronesian island group of Cape Verde is threatening many endemic species with extinction. The status of Phoenix atlantica, the Cape Verde Island date palm, is one of the unresolved taxonomic issues not only of the archipelago’s flora but also in the genus Phoenix. We applied 15 nuclear microsatellite markers and one chloroplast minisatellite marker to individuals of Phoenix from the Cape Verde Islands, P. dactylifera, P. canariensis and P. sylvestris, in order to assess the taxonomic position of P. atlantica within the genus. Our analysis showed that P. atlantica is clearly distinct from its close relatives and that its closest relative is likely to be its nearest geographical neighbour, P. dactylifera. Comparable levels of genetic diversity were found in insular P. atlantica and continental P. dactylifera despite the large difference in geographic range size. Our findings highlight the importance of conserving the relatively fragmented and isolated populations of P. atlantica as one of only␣two endemic trees on the islands and emphasise the need for further studies into its evolution and relationship with P. dactylifera.

Key words

colonisation island populations Macaronesia microsatellites Palmae 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We are grateful to A. Querido, Director of the Instituto Nacional de Investigaçao e Desenvolvimento Agrário (INIDA) for permission to carry out the work in the CVI, I. Gomes (INIDA) and S.␣Gomes (INIDA) for logistical help and support in the field and W. Lobin (University of Bonn), T.␣Leyens (Fogo Island), J. Dransfield (RBG Kew) and W. Baker (RBG Kew) for help in facilitating fieldwork. The authors also thank the staff of the divisions of the Africultural Ministry on the islands of Maio, and Boavista for their cooperation in this study. Thanks to W. Baker (RBG Kew), M. Carine (NHM), R. Bateman (NHM) for enlightening discussions on aspects of the study and for comments that helped to improve the ms. Thanks also to N. Garwood (NHM) for help with SYSTAT, C. Lexer (RBG Kew) for advice on population analysis and to the Editors of the journal Palms for permission to reproduce the map. We are particularly indebted to The Merlin Trust, the International Palm Society and the South Florida Palm Society for financial support in fieldwork and labwork.


  1. Andrus N, Trusty J, Santos-Guerra A, Jansen RK, Francisco-Ortega J (2004) Using molecular phylogenies to test phytogeographical links between East/South Africa–Southern Arabia and the Macaronesian islands – a review, and the case of Vierea and Pulicaria section Vieraeopsis (Asteraceae). Taxon 53: 333–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrow S (1998) A revision of Phoenix. Kew Bull. 53: 513–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Billotte N, Marseillac N, Brottier P, Noyer J-L, Jacquemoud-Collet J-P, Moreau C., Couvreur T, Chevallier M-H, Pintaud J-C, Risterucci A.M. (2004) Nuclear microsatellite markers for the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.): characterisation and utility across the genus Phoenix and in other palm genera. Mol. Ecol. Notes 4: 256–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bowcock AM, Ruiz-Linares A, Tomfohrde J, Minch E, Kidd JR, Cavalli-Sforza LL (1994) High resolution human evolutionary trees with polymorphic microsatellites. Nature, 368: 455–457CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Brochmann C, Rustan ØH, Lobin W and Kilian N (1997) The endemic vascular plants of the Cape Verde Islands, W. Africa. Sommerfeltia, 24Google Scholar
  6. Brown RP, Suarez NM, Smith A and Pestano J (2001) Phylogeography of Cape Verde Island skinks (Mabuya). Mol. Ecol. 10: 1593–1597CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Carranza S, Arnold EN, Mateo JA, Lopez-Jurado LF (2000) Long-distance colonization and radiation in gekkonid lizards, Tarentola (Reptilia : Gekkonidae), revealed by mitochondrial DNA sequences. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B 267: 637–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chevalier A (1934) Géographie Botanique : Premier aperçu sur la vegetation de l’Archipel des Iles du Cap Vert. Compt. Rend. Hebd. Séances Acad. Sci. 199: 1153Google Scholar
  9. Chevalier A (1935a) Les Iles du Cap Vert. Plantes nouvelles de l’Archipelago des Iles du Cap Vert. Bull. Mus. Nat. d’Hist. Nat., 2 ser. t VII 137–139Google Scholar
  10. Chevalier A (1935b) Les Iles du Cap Vert. Palmae : Phoenix L Rev. Bot. Appl. Agric. Trop. 170–171 : 1019–1020Google Scholar
  11. Chevalier A (1952) Recherches sur le Phoenix africains. Rev. Internat. Bot. Appl. Agric. Trop., 355–356Google Scholar
  12. Clark CM, Wentworth TR, O’Malley DM (2000) Genetic discontinuity revealed by chloroplast microsatellites in eastern North American Abies (Pinaceae). Am. J. Bot. 87: 774–782PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cornuet J-M, Piry S, Luikart G, Estoup A, Solignac M (1999) New methods employing multilocus genotypes to select or exclude populations as origins of individuals. Genetics 153: 1989–2000PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Dieringer D, Schlötterer C (2002) Microsatellite analyser (MSA): a platform independent analysis tool for large microsatellite data sets. Mol. Ecol. Notes 3: 167–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Djerbi M (1982) Bayoud disease in North Africa: history, distribution, diagnosis and control. Date Palm Journal 1: 153–197Google Scholar
  16. Doyle JJ, Doyle JL (1990) Isolation of plant DNA form fresh tissue. Focus 12: 13–15Google Scholar
  17. Freitas H, Brehm A (2001) Genetic diversity of the Macaronesian leafy liverwort Porella canariensis inferred from RAPD markers. J. Heredity 92: 339–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gomez A, Gonzalez-Martinez SC, Collada C, Climent J, Gil L (2003) Complex population genetic structure in the endemic Canary Island pine revealed using chloroplast microsatellite markers. Theor. Appl. Gen. 107: 1123–1131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. González-Pérez MA, Caujapé-Castells J, Sosa PA (2004) Allozyme variation and structure of the Canarian endemic palm tree Phoenix canariensis (Arecaceae): implications for conservation. Heredity 93: 307–315CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Goudet, J (1995) FSTAT (version 1.2) a computer program to calculate F-statistics. J. Heredity 86: 485–486Google Scholar
  21. Goudet J (2001) FSTAT, a program to estimate and test gene diversities and fixation indices (version 2.9.3). Available from Updated from Goudet (1995)
  22. Greuter W (1967) Beiträge zur Flora der Südägäis 8–9. Bauhinia 3: 243–254Google Scholar
  23. Hamrick JL, Godt MJW, Sherman-Broyles SL (1992) Factors influencing levels of genetic diversity in woody plant species. New Forests 6: 95–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Henderson S, Gomes I, Gomes S, Baker W (2003) Phoenix in the Cape Verde Islands. Palms 47: 5–14Google Scholar
  25. Hille SM, Nesje M and Segelbacher G (2003) Genetic structure of kestrel populations and colonization of Cape Verde archipelago. Mol. Ecol. 12: 2145–2151CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Juan C, Emerson BC, Oromi P, Hewitt GM (2000) Colonization and diversification: towards a phylogeographic synthesis for the Canary Islands. Trends Ecol. Evol. 15: 104–109CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kunkel MA and Kunkel G (1974) Flora de Gran Canaria 1. Arborles y arubustos arboreos. Cabilo Insular de Gran CanariaGoogle Scholar
  28. Leskinen E, Alström-Rapaport C, Pamilo P (2004) Phylogeographical structure, distribution and genetic variation of the green algae Ulva intestinalis and U. compressa (Chlorophyta) in the Baltic Sea area. Mol. Ecol. 13: 2257–2266CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Leyens T, Lobin W (1996) Primeria lista vermelha de Cabo Verde. Cour. For. Sen. 193: 1–140Google Scholar
  30. Maire R (1957) Flore de l’Afrique du Nord. 4. Encyclopédie. Biologique, 53 Google Scholar
  31. Minton RL, Lydeard C (2003) Phylogeny, taxonomy, genetics and global heritage ranks of an imperilled, fresh-water snail genus Lithasia (Pleuroceridae). Mol. Ecol. 12: 75–87CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Morici C (1998) Phoenix canariensis in the wild. Principes 42: 85–89Google Scholar
  33. Mitchell-Thomé RC (1985) Radiometric studies in Macaronesia. Bol. Mus. Mun. Funchal 37: 52–85Google Scholar
  34. Munier P (1974) Le probleme de l’origine du palmier dattier et l’Atlantide. Fruits 29: 235–240Google Scholar
  35. Nogales N, Hernandez EC, Valdes F (1999) Seed dispersal by common ravens Corvus corvax among island habitats (Canarian archipelago). Ecoscience 6: 56–61Google Scholar
  36. Nogueira I (1979) Plantas colhidas pelo Eng. L.A. Grandvaux Barbosa no arquipelago de Cabo Verde. – VII. Spermatophyta (Cannaceae – Cyperaceae). Garcia de Orta, Ser. Bot. 4: 1–6Google Scholar
  37. Orloci L (1978) Multivariate Analysis in Vegetation Research. Junk, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  38. Parducci L, Szmidt AE, Madaghiele A, Anzidei M, Vendramin GG (2001) Genetic variation at chloroplast microsatellites (cp SSRs) in Abies nebrodensis (Locaj.) mattei and three neighbouring Abies species. Theor. Appl. Genet. 102: 733–740CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Peakall R & Smouse PE (2001) GenAlEx V5: genetic analysis in Excel. Population genetic software for teaching and research, Australian National University, Canberra.
  40. Pintaud JC, Couvreur T, Barrow S & Billotte N (in prep.) Evaluation of the taxonomy of the genus Phoenix (Arecaceae) using nuclear microsatellites and a chloroplastic minisatellite.Google Scholar
  41. Richardson JE, Fay MF, Cronk QCB, Chase MW (2003) Species delimitation and the origin of populations in island representatives of Phylica (Rhamnaceae). Evolution 57: 816–827PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Rhouma A (1994) Le palmier dattier en Tunisie. I Le patrimoine génétique. Tunis, TunisiaGoogle Scholar
  43. Salgueiro P, Coelho MM, Palmeirum JM, Ruedi M (2004) Mitochondrial DNA variation and population structure of the island endemic Azorean bat (Nyctalus azoreum). Mol. Ecol. 13: 3261–3619CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sosa PA, Bouza N, Cabrera-Perez MA and Luque A (1998) Genetic variation in Phoenix canariensis and P. dactylifera (Arecaceae) populations of Gran Canaria using isozyme electrophoresis. Bol. Mus. Mun. Fun. 5(B): 443–448Google Scholar
  45. Sunding P (1973) Endemism in the flora of the Cape Verde Islands with special emphasis on the Macaronesian flora element. Monogr. Bio. Canar. 4: 112–117Google Scholar
  46. Sunding P (1979) Origins of the Macaronesian flora. In: Bramwell D (eds), Plants and Islands. Academic Press, London, pp. 13–40Google Scholar
  47. Trifi M, Rhouma A, Marrakchi M (2000) Phylogenetic relationships in Tunisian date-palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) germplasm collection using DNA amplification fingerprinting. Agronomie 20: 665–671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Werth E (1934) Zur Kultur der Dattelpalme und due Frage ihrer Herkunft. Ber. Deutsch. Bot. Ges. 51: 501–512Google Scholar
  49. Wrigley G (1995) Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L). In: Smartt J, Simmonds NW (eds), The Evolution of Crop Plants. Longman, Essex, pp. 399–403Google Scholar
  50. Zohary D, Hopf M (1988) Domestication of plants in the Old World: the origin and spread of cultivated plants in West Asia, Europe and the Nile Valley. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyThe Natural History MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement)UMR 1096 Polymorphismes d’Intérêt AgronomiqueMontpellier Cedex 5France
  3. 3.IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement)UMR DGPC/DYNADIVMontpellier Cedex 5France

Personalised recommendations