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Population structure and genetic diversity in natural populations of Theobroma speciosum Willd. Ex Spreng (Malvaceae)

Author(s): L.D. Giustina, L.N. Luz, F.S. Vieira, F.S. Rossi, C.R.A. Soares-Lopes, T.N.S. Pereira and A.A.B. Rossi

The genus Theobroma found in the Amazon region is composed of 22 species, including Theobroma speciosum, better known as cacauí. These species are constantly threatened by forest fragmentation caused by human activities and require conservation strategies and management aimed at preserving them in their natural environments. The main objective of this study was to analyze the population structure and genetic diversity within and between natural populations of T. speciosum by using ISSR molecular markers to understand the population structure of the species. Four natural populations belonging to the Amazon rainforest (BAC, CRO, FLA, and PNA), located in the State of Mato Grosso, were selected. Amplification reactions were performed using 15 ISSR primers. A total of 101 loci were found, of which 54.46% were polymorphic at the species level. The BAC population showed higher genetic diversity (H = 0.095 and I = 0.144) and higher percentage of polymorphism (28.71%). The populations showed an FST value of 0.604, indicating marked genetic differentiation. The highest genetic variation was found between populations. Gene flow was low between populations, indicating genetic isolation between populations.