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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. Henderson
  • N. Billotte
  • J.-C. Pintaud
Article

Abstract

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 

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Notes

Acknowledgments

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.

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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

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