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Contemporary pollen and seed dispersal in natural populations of Bertholletia excelsa (Bonpl.)

Author(s): A.B. Baldoni, L.H.O. Wadt, T. Campos, V.S. Silva, V.C.R. Azevedo, L.R. Mata, A.A. Botin, N.O. Mendes, F.D. Tardin, H. Tonini, E.S.S. Hoogerheide and A.M. Sebbenn

Due to the nutritional content and commercial value of its seeds, Bertholletia excelsa is one of the most important species exploited in the Amazon region. The species is hermaphroditic, insect pollinated, and its seeds are dispersed by barochory and animals. Because the fruit set is dependent on natural pollinator activity, gene flow plays a key role in fruit production. However, to date, there have been no studies on pollen and seed flow in natural populations of B. excelsa. Herein, we used microsatellite loci and parentage analysis to investigate the spatial genetic structure (SGS), realized pollen and seed dispersal, and effective pollen dispersal for two B. excelsa populations in the Brazilian Amazon forest. Two plots were established in natural forests from which adults, juveniles, and seeds were sampled. Realized and effective pollen flow was greater than realized seed flow. The distance of realized pollen dispersal ranged from 36 to 2060 m, and the distance of realized seed dispersal ranged from 30 to 1742 m. Both pollen and seeds showed a dispersal pattern of isolation by distance, indicating a high frequency of mating among near-neighbor trees and seed dispersal near to mother trees. Both populations present SGS up to 175 m, which can be explained by isolation by distance pollen and seed dispersal patterns. Our results suggested that fragmentation of these forest populations may result in a significant decrease in gene flow, due to the isolation by distance pollen and seed dispersal patterns.