Assessment of genetic diversity of a native population of Eplingiella fruticosa: a plant with therapeutic potential.
Eplingiella fruticosa (Salzm. ex Benth.) Harley & J.F.B. Pastore, ex Hyptis fruticosa Salzm. ex Benth. is an aromatic and medicinal plant of the family Lamiaceae, found mainly in regions with intense anthropic activity. Information on the genetic diversity of this species is scarce. However, it can be assessed using molecular markers that identify the level of diversity among phenotypically identical individuals. The present study aimed to characterize the genetic diversity of a native population of E. fruticosa from the State of Sergipe using ISSR molecular markers. Samples of 100 plants were collected in 11 municipalities of the State of Sergipe and analyzed using eight ISSR primers, resulting in 72 informative bands. The cluster analysis obtained using the neighbor joining method resulted in three groups: Group I consisted of 50 plants, mainly from the municipalities of Areia Branca, Estância, Japaratuba, Moita Bonita, Pirambu, and Salgado; Group II was formed by 21 plants, with nine representatives from the municipality of Itaporanga d'Ajuda and 13 representatives from other municipalities; Group III was composed by 29 plants, being represented mainly by the municipalities of Malhada dos Bois and São Cristóvão. The smallest genetic distance occurred between plants EPF94 and EPF96 (0.250), and the greatest distance occurred between plants EPF50 and EPF96 (0.9778). The Shannon index had a mean value of 0.42, and diversity was considered moderate. Heterozygosity had a mean value of 0.267 and was considered low. Polymorphic information content (0.253) was considered moderately informative. Genetic diversity of E. fruticosa plants was intermediate, and the results of the present study can assist in the conservation and use of the genetic resources of this species.