Research Article

Genetic characterization of natural populations of the medicinal plant Palicourea coriacea (Rubiaceae) with molecular markers

Published: April 20, 2010
Genet. Mol. Res. 9 (2) : 695-704 DOI: 10.4238/vol9-2gmr671

Abstract

Palicourea coriacea (Rubiaceae) is a herbaceous, perennial species typical of the Cerrado; it is popularly known as “douradinha”, because of its yellow flowers. It is utilized in popular medicine, mainly for the treatment of renal diseases. We used RAPD markers to evaluate the genetic structure of nine natural populations of P. coriacea, totaling 168 individuals, collected in the States of Goiás and Bahia. This species showed a high level of genetic diversity, with He values varying between 0.259 and 0.338, with an overall mean of 0.296. Analysis by AMOVA revealed that 23% of the total variability was between populations and 77% was within populations. The estimate of apparent gene flow (Nm) was 0.83. Analyses of the fixation index (f ) using a Bayesian approach yielded a mean value of 0.98, suggesting that this is an autogamous species. Analyses of genetic divergence and spatial pattern of the populations utilizing θB and ΦST matrices, pair to pair, revealed no correlation between geographic distance and genetic distance; the nine populations grouped randomly, without relation to their geographic origin. The hypothesis that geographically close populations should be genetically close was discarded based on the Mantel test; the correlation was 0.155 (P = 0.23). The degree of interpopulational differentiation was relatively high, which allows us to recommend a strategy of sampling for the ex situ conservation of genetic variability, utilizing a larger number of populations. For in situ conservation, we suggest preservation of a larger number of areas in the Cerrado, where this species naturally occurs.

Palicourea coriacea (Rubiaceae) is a herbaceous, perennial species typical of the Cerrado; it is popularly known as “douradinha”, because of its yellow flowers. It is utilized in popular medicine, mainly for the treatment of renal diseases. We used RAPD markers to evaluate the genetic structure of nine natural populations of P. coriacea, totaling 168 individuals, collected in the States of Goiás and Bahia. This species showed a high level of genetic diversity, with He values varying between 0.259 and 0.338, with an overall mean of 0.296. Analysis by AMOVA revealed that 23% of the total variability was between populations and 77% was within populations. The estimate of apparent gene flow (Nm) was 0.83. Analyses of the fixation index (f ) using a Bayesian approach yielded a mean value of 0.98, suggesting that this is an autogamous species. Analyses of genetic divergence and spatial pattern of the populations utilizing θB and ΦST matrices, pair to pair, revealed no correlation between geographic distance and genetic distance; the nine populations grouped randomly, without relation to their geographic origin. The hypothesis that geographically close populations should be genetically close was discarded based on the Mantel test; the correlation was 0.155 (P = 0.23). The degree of interpopulational differentiation was relatively high, which allows us to recommend a strategy of sampling for the ex situ conservation of genetic variability, utilizing a larger number of populations. For in situ conservation, we suggest preservation of a larger number of areas in the Cerrado, where this species naturally occurs.