Genetic analysis of Apuleia leiocarpa as revealed by random amplified polymorphic DNA markers: prospects for population genetic studies.
Apuleia leiocarpa (Vogel) J.F. MacBride is a hardwood species native to South America, which is at serious risk of extinction. Therefore, it is of prime importance to examine the genetic diversity of this species, information required for developing conservation, sustainable management, and breeding strategies. Although scarcely used in recent years, random amplified polymorphic DNA markers are useful resources for the analysis of genetic diversity and structure of tree species. This study represents the first genetic analysis based on DNA markers in A. leiocarpa that aimed to investigate the levels of polymorphism and to select markers for the precise characterization of its genetic structure. We adapted the original DNA extraction protocol based on cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide, and describe a simple procedure that can be used to obtain high-quality samples from leaf tissues of this tree. Eighteen primers were selected, revealing 92 bands, from which 75 were polymorphic and 61 were sufficient to represent the overall genetic structure of the population without compromising the precision of the analysis. Some fragments were conserved among individuals, which can be sequenced and used to analyze nucleotide diversity parameters through a wider set of A. leiocarpa individuals and populations. The individuals were separated into 11 distinct groups with variable levels of genetic diversity, which is important for selecting desirable genotypes and for the development of a conservation and sustainable management program. Our results are of prime importance for further investigations concerning the genetic characterization of this important, but vulnerable species.