Genetic diversity and population structure of natural populations of the endangered grass Paspalum rawitscheri (Parodi) Chase ex G.H. Rua & Valls (Paspaleae, Poaceae)


The objective of this study was to evaluate the genetic diversity and population structure of natural subpopulations of Paspalum rawitscheri (Parodi) Chase ex G.H. Rua & Valls using inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) molecular markers. Four natural subpopulations from State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, were evaluated, using six ISSR primers. A total of 131 fragments were amplified, 34 of which were polymorphic. The genetic diversity (h) for the subpopulations was considered low, with values ranging from 0.130 to 0.217. The Vacaria subpopulation presented the lowest diversity among populations. The Shannon (I) diversity indices were also low, with values ranging from 0.187 to 0.334, with the Vacaria subpopulation also presenting the lowest values. The molecular variance (AMOVA) analysis showed, in general, the highest variation occurred within subpopulations rather than between subpopulations. The Bayesian Inference analysis separated the individuals into four genetic clusters, mixing individuals from different municipalities in the clusters. The results indicate that the species has low genetic diversity and low population structure, requiring conservation plans. Ex situ conservation becomes a necessary effort, since populations of this species are found in grasslands remnants affected by fires and implantation of crops, and is not present in any protected area of the Brazilian Conservation Units system.

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The authors thank the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) for the fellowship for the first author, and the Department of Biology of the Universidade Federal de Santa Maria for the financial support on the field trips. We also thank Prof. Dr. Zaida Ines Antoniolli and her lab team for their support.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Plant collection, material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by the first and second authors. The first draft of the manuscript was written by the first author and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Liliana Essi.

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de Freitas, J.M.B., Essi, L. & Tedesco, S.B. Genetic diversity and population structure of natural populations of the endangered grass Paspalum rawitscheri (Parodi) Chase ex G.H. Rua & Valls (Paspaleae, Poaceae). Braz. J. Bot (2021).

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  • Brazilian grasslands
  • Conservation
  • ISSR
  • Population structure