Determination of the genetic structure of remnant Morus boninensis Koidz. trees to establish a conservation program on the Bonin Islands, Japan.

Research paper by Naoki N Tani, Hiroshi H Yoshimaru, Takayuki T Kawahara, Yoshio Y Hoshi, Fuyuo F Nobushima, Takaya T Yasui

Indexed on: 13 Oct '06Published on: 13 Oct '06Published in: BMC Ecology


Morus boninensis, is an endemic plant of the Bonin (Ogasawara) Islands of Japan and is categorized as "critically endangered" in the Japanese red data book. However, little information is available about its ecological, evolutionary and genetic status, despite the urgent need for guidelines for the conservation of the species. Therefore, we adopted Moritz's MU concept, based on the species' current genetic structure, to define management units and to select mother tree candidates for seed orchards.Nearly all individuals of the species were genotyped on the basis of seven microsatellite markers. Genetic diversity levels in putative natural populations were higher than in putative man-made populations with the exception of those on Otouto-jima Island. This is because a limited number of maternal trees are likely to have been used for seed collection to establish the man-made populations. A model-based clustering analysis clearly distinguished individuals into nine clusters, with a large difference in genetic composition between the population on Otouto-jima Island, the putative natural populations and the putative man-made populations. The Otouto-jima population appeared to be genetically differentiated from the others; a finding that was also supported by pairwise FST and RST analysis. Although multiple clusters were detected in the putative man-made populations, the pattern of genetic diversity was monotonous in comparison to the natural populations.The genotyping by microsatellite markers revealed strong genetic structures. Typically, artificial propagation of this species has ignored the genetic structure, relying only on seeds from Otouto-jima for replanting on other islands, because of a problem with inter-specific hybridization on Chichi-jima and Haha-jima Islands. However, this study demonstrates that we should be taking into consideration the genetic structure of the species when designing a propagation program for the conservation of this species.