Genetic Structure and Diversity of Attalea vitrivir Populations in Brazilian Cerrado

  •  Bárbara Rayane Ramos Muniz Nassau    
  •  Lorena Ramos da Mata    
  •  Márcio de Carvalho Moretzsohn    
  •  Vânia Cristina Rennó Azevedo    
  •  Marcelo Mattos Cavallari    
  •  Murilo Malveira Brandão    
  •  Henrique Maia Valério    
  •  Marcílio Fagundes    
  •  Maurício Lopes de Faria    
  •  Walter Santos de Araújo    
  •  Marcio Antonio Silva Pimenta    


The Babassu (Attalea sp.) is a native palm tree, belonging to the family Arecaceae, with a wide distribution in Brazil. The species Attalea vitrivir Zona occurs in the Northwest of Minas Gerais State and Southwest of Bahia State, where the Cerrado is the predominant biome. Babassu is an important native oil resource and one of the main extractive products in Brazil, besides contributing significantly to the economy of some Brazilian States. The results of an ongoing study of the conservation status and genetic diversity of populations of the palm A.vitrivir are presented. The distribution of A. vitrivir has been reduced by habitat fragmentation, resulting in two main regions of occurrence (northern and southern), with a large gap between them, being only one of them protected by a conservation unit. A total of 84 microsatellite primer pairs designed for Attalea speciosa were screened for polymorphism and transferability in A. vitrivir individuals and 21 transferable primer pairs were used to better understand the distribution of genetic variability, gene flow and conservation status of A. vitrivir populations.The genetic diversity estimates using these primers indicated high levels of genetic variation and showed that a higher variation was located within than among populations, probably due to reproductive isolation. The five populations evaluated were grouped into two distinct groups, coinciding with northern and southern regions. High genetic diversity within populations and high differentiation among both regions indicate limited gene flow. The northern unprotected populations presented high genetic variability and should also be considered for protection for the long term conservation of the species.

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