Demographic history and spatial genetic structure in a remnant population of the subtropical tree Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil (Griseb.) Altschul (Fabaceae)

  • Alejandra L. Goncalves
  • María V. García
  • Myriam Heuertz
  • Santiago C. González-MartínezEmail author
Research Paper


Key message

A remnant population of Anadenanthera colubrina var. cebil in Northern Argentina showed a mixed mating system, high genetic diversity, and moderate spatial genetic structure, which was stronger in saplings than in adults. Demographic history analyses revealed an ancient population expansion. Despite high genetic diversity, high inbreeding suggests caution in the use of this stand as seed source.


Information on fine-scale spatial genetic structure (FSGS) and demographic history is essential to determine which mechanisms are responsible for population persistence and evolution. This is particularly important in fragmented biomes, such as the seasonally dry tropical forests.


To assess the level of genetic diversity and population genetic structure in a remnant population of A. colubrina var. cebil, and to evaluate the influence of historical and contemporary environmental change on the genetic constitution of this population.


Eight microsatellites were typed in 60 adults and 59 saplings. The existence of (non-spatial) genetic clusters was evaluated using STRUCTURE and PCAs. FSGS was evaluated by kinship analyses and sPCA. MCMCglmm models were used to provide insights into factors underlying FSGS. Demographic history was studied using bottleneck statistics and approximate Bayesian computation.


We found high levels of genetic diversity and high inbreeding. Genetic structure was stronger in saplings than in adult trees, probably due to assortative mating, and was not explained by altitude or DBH. Demographic analyses suggested an ancient population expansion.


Patterns of inbreeding and relatedness suggest a mixed mating system. High genetic diversity and moderate genetic structure suggest long-term population viability. High inbreeding suggests caution when using this stand as a source of material for reforestation.


Paranaense biogeographic province Fine-scale spatial genetic structure Demographic modelling Genetic diversity Inbreeding Microsatellites 



We thank Entidad Binacional Yacyretá for granting access to Campo San Juan Nature Reserve. Fieldwork benefited from the assistance of M.R. Kostlin. A.L. Goncalves wishes to thank to Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) for providing her doctoral fellowship. This study is part of the PhD thesis of A.L. Goncalves at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata.


Financial support was provided by PICTO UNaM 2011 N°0133 from “Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica” and “Universidad Nacional de Misiones” to M.V. García, and by PIP N° 112-2015001-00860CO from CONICET, to M.V. García. This work has also been supported by ANR’s “Investissement d’Avenir” grants (CEBA: ANR-10-LABX-25-01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Químicas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de MisionesPosadasArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto de Biología Subtropical – Nodo Posadas (UNaM – CONICET)PosadasArgentina
  3. 3.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasBuenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.BIOGECO, INRA, Univ. BordeauxCestasFrance

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