Increased relatedness among the neighboring plants from seedling to adult stages in carnaúba wax palm.
The objective of this study was to assess the spatial genetic structure (SGS) at different life stages (cohorts) in a remnant population (N = 101) of Copernicia prunifera in the semiarid region of northeastern Brazil. Using seven inter-simple sequence repeat molecular markers, we were able to analyze 93 loci with 100% polymorphism. Seedlings had the highest level of genetic diversity (H = 0.411, H = 0.599), followed by juveniles (H = 0.394, H = 0.579) and adults (H = 0.267, H = 0.427). Based on analysis of molecular variance, the majority of genetic variations were observed to occur within the life stages (93.42%) rather than between the life stages (6.58%). We found a recent reduction in the population size (bottleneck) based on the number of loci with heterozygosity excess for the two models used (infinite allele = 92 and stepwise = 91). All the life stages showed significant SGS, with positive and significant kinship values. Sp values were 0.040 for seedlings, 0.093 for juveniles, 0.156 for adults, and 0.053 for the total population. We found an increase in SGS from the seedling to adult stages, indicating that the plants were from related adult progenitors. Data from this study can be used in designing effective management and conservation strategies for the species.