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Species delimitation and genetic structure of two endemic Magnolia species (section Magnolia; Magnoliaceae) in Mexico

  • Yessica RicoEmail author
  • Bruno Alejandro Gutiérrez Becerril
Original Paper


Magnolias are characteristic tree species of the Tropical Montane Cloud Forest (TMCF) in Mexico, an ecosystem that is highly threatened by habitat fragmentation and climate change. In this study, based on DNA sequences from five regions (chloroplast: trnT-trnL, trnK5-matK, trnS-trnG, rpl32-trnL, nuclear: ITS) and seven nuclear microsatellite markers, we aimed to delineate species boundaries between two-endemic species of the TMCF, Magnolia pedrazae and Magnolia schiedeana, and to estimate levels of genetic structure and diversity among populations. Phylogenetic and haplotype network analyses for the chloroplast and ITS regions did not support genetic differentiation as two distinctive species. Results from Bayesian and multivariate cluster analyses based on microsatellite loci showed high genetic differentiation across most populations, which was consistent with a strong and significant pattern of isolation by geographical distance. We found moderate to high levels of population genetic diversity, but it was lower in small populations relative to large populations. Our results suggest a contemporary decrease of genetic connectivity among populations, likely as a consequence of the current decline of suitable TMCF habitat. Managing landscape connectivity among remnant Magnolia populations within protected natural parks and surroundings, and with emphasis of small populations, would be key for the species conservation.


Conservation genetics Genetic structure and diversity Microsatellites ITS sequences Chloroplast DNA sequences 



We thank Jose Antonio Vázquez García and Miguel Ángel Muñiz Castro for providing location information of M. pedrazae sites in Querétaro. We are especially grateful with Roberto Pedraza from the Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda for the authorization and guidance to sample in JH and YE. Likewise, to Pedro and Maximino Cruz Ponce and Rosalío Garay Galván from the community of La Trinidad and Coronel Castillo in San Luis Potosí for their authorization and guidance to sample leaves in FO, SI, and CS. We thank Sergio Zamudio, Brenda Bedolla, María Magdalena Salinas Rodríguez, and Hugo Castillo Gómez for their assistance in sampling collection, Cristina Barcenas for her assistance in the optimization of microsatellite markers and Maria Luisa Herrera Arroyo for processing a subset of DNA extractions.

Supplementary material

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CONACYT, Red de Diversidad Biológica del Occidente Mexicano, Instituto de Ecología, A.C.PátzcuaroMexico
  2. 2.Independent ConsultantPátzcuaroMexico

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