Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 305, Issue 6, pp 415–429 | Cite as

Genetic characterization of tertiary relict endemic Phoenix theophrasti populations in Turkey and phylogenetic relations of the species with other palm species revealed by SSR markers

  • Nilden Vardareli
  • Taylan Doğaroğlu
  • Ersin Doğaç
  • Vatan Taşkın
  • Belgin Göçmen TaşkınEmail author
Original Article


Phoenix theophrasti is one of the few tree species tertiary relict endemic to the eastern Mediterranean, and it is one of the two palm species native to continental Europe. It has local populations both in Crete-Greece and in southwest Turkey. Like most of the relict endemics, it has a restricted distribution and it is at risk of extinction. The primary goal of this study was the genetic characterization of Turkish P. theophrasti populations by using SSR markers. The secondary goal was to detect the phylogenetic relations of P. theophrasti with nine different palm species which are P. dactylifera, P. reclinata, P. rupicola, P. roebelenii, P. canariensis, P. loureiri, P. acaulis, P. sylvestris from Phoenix genus and Chamaerops humilis from Chamaerops genus by the same markers. Chamaerops humilis was included in the study as the second natural palm species of the Europe. The genetic differentiation coefficient (FST) was found as 0.34, and the level of gene flow (Nm) within a generation among populations was found as 0.49. In general, excess of homozygotes relative to that expected with random mating was detected in the populations. The lowest differentiation of P. theophrasti was from P. dactylifera (FST = 0.1932), and the highest differentiation of P. theophrasti was from C. humilis (FST= 0.4261). We propose that P. theophrasti must urgently be included in the Red List of IUCN under the critically endangered (CR) category. Phylogenetic relations determined among the palm species indicated the necessity of re-evaluation of the taxonomy of palms.


Genetic variation Palm species Phoenix theophrasti SSR markers Turkey 



We are grateful to Nedim TÜZÜN for his help in plant material collection in the Datça Peninsula. We also thank Dr. Ragıp ESENER from Köyceğiz-Palm Center for providing samples of palm species used in the study. This study was financially supported by Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University Scientific Research Fund (Project Number: MUBAP-2011/1).

Author contributions

BGT designed the study, TD, VT and BGT collected the plant material, NV performed SSR analysis, ED and VT performed the analysis of data, and BGT wrote the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights statement

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subject.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceMuğla Sıtkı Koçman UniversityMuğlaTurkey
  2. 2.Ula Vocational School, Department of Bee BreedingMuğla Sıtkı Koçman UniversityMuğlaTurkey
  3. 3.Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Köyceğiz Vocational SchoolMuğla Sıtkı Koçman UniversityMuğlaTurkey

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