Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary We provide an estimate of genetic variation within and between two populations of Bertholletia excelsa (Brazil nut), a large canopy tree found in the rain forests of South America. Average heterozygosity is 0.190, and 54.3% of the sampled loci are polymorphic. The population structure deviates significantly from Hardy-Weinberg expectations for Fest2 and Pgm2 (F =0.405 and 0.443, respectively) in one population, and highly significantly (F=-0.341) for Gdh in the other population. Although allele frequencies of the two populations differ significantly for Aat2, Est5, Mdh1, and Mdh2B, Nei's coefficient of gene differentiation (Gst) indicates that the between-population component (Dst) of genic diversity represents only 3.75% of the size of the within-population component (Hs). The implications of these findings in terms of conservation genetics are that much of the genetic diversity of this species may be preserved within one or a few populations. However, such populations must be very large because it appears that the large amount of genetic variation in Brazil nut populations is maintained by extensive gene flow and bonds of mating over a large area. The genetic architecture of Bertholletia excelsa is similar to that expected for an extensively diploidized paleopolyploid species.
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