A Preliminary Assessment of the Genetic Diversity and Population Structure of Guava, Psidium guajava, in San Cristobal

  • María de Lourdes TorresEmail author
  • Bernardo Gutiérrez
Part of the Social and Ecological Interactions in the Galapagos Islands book series (SESGI)


The fragile ecosystems of the Galapagos Islands are prone to significant disruptions due to the presence of invasive species. One of these invaders, the guava tree (Psidium guajava), may pose a threat to numerous native plant species and ecosystems across the archipelago. In order to better understand the guava populations of the islands, a preliminary assessment of the genetic diversity of P. guajava from six collection sites in San Cristobal Island, and one continental sample, was performed through the analysis of SSR molecular markers. Various parameters regarding the species’ population genetics and structure were estimated for the samples through different approaches. The results suggest that, as an invasive species, P. guajava presents a reduced genetic diversity, probably as a consequence of a population bottleneck which most likely occurred during their introduction into San Cristobal. Individuals from the different collection sites show some evidence of genetic differentiation for some locations, but widespread gene flow appears to predominate. The diversity observed could be a product of either multiple introductions into the island or as a consequence of undergoing diversifying selection across different ecosystems within San Cristobal. These results have been contrasted with a similar analysis of the native guayabillo (Psidium galapageium), which shows a higher genetic diversity and a lack of population structure in the island. Further research should be conducted to better understand the current status of both species within the archipelago, their potential to form hybrids, and the possibility of P. guajava becoming a serious threat to the islands and their biodiversity.


San Cristobal Psidium galapageium Psidium guajava Genetic diversity Endemic species Invasive species 



The authors would like to acknowledge the immense contributions of María José Ponce, Sara Ponce, Viviana Jaramillo, and Venancio Arahana in the collection of samples and genetic data for both plant species featured in this chapter. This project was funded by the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) GAIAS Grants, complying with all permits and regulations from the Galapagos National Park and the Ministry of Environment.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • María de Lourdes Torres
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bernardo Gutiérrez
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Biotecnología VegetalColegio de Ciencias Biológicas y Ambientales, Universidad San Francisco de QuitoQuitoEcuador
  2. 2.UNC-USFQ Galapagos Science CenterUniversidad San Francisco de QuitoQuitoEcuador
  3. 3.Laboratorio de Biotecnología VegetalUniversidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ, Colegio de Ciencias Biológicas y AmbientalesQuitoEcuador

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