Genetic diversity and structure of a rare endemic cactus and an assessment of its genetic relationship with a more common congener

Niraj Rayamajhi, Jyotsna Sharma

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6 Scopus citations


Endemic, obligate outcrossing plant species with narrow geographic distributions and disjunct populations are prone to loss of genetic diversity. Simultaneously, delineating clear species boundaries is important for targeted conservation efforts. The rare and endemic cactus, Sclerocactus brevihamatus subsp. tobuschii (SBT), has a parapatric relationship with Sclerocactus brevihamatus subsp. brevihamatus (SBB) but genetic distance between the two taxa is unknown. We: (1) developed taxon-specific polymorphic microsatellites, (2) assessed genetic diversity within and among nine populations of SBT, and within one population of SBB, and (3) estimated the genetic relationship between the two subspecies. Within-population genetic diversity of SBT was moderate to high (mean Ho = 0.37; mean He = 0.59). Indirect estimate of inbreeding corrected for null alleles (Fis-INEst) was low for SBT, ranging from 0.03 to 0.14 (mean Fis-INEst = 0.07). Genetic differentiation among populations of SBT was low based on Fst (0.08) and AMOVA (ФPT = 0.10). Lack of genetic and spatial correlation in SBT populations coupled with the presence of private alleles and bottleneck events in several populations suggests that reproductive isolation is occurring but that sufficient time may not have yet passed to manifest strong differentiation. Cluster analyses segregated the 10 populations into three distinct groups, and separated SBB genotypes clearly. Results suggest that while hybridization between the two subspecies may occur, SBT is clearly differentiated genetically from SBB to retain its current taxonomic status.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-340
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Genetic differentiation
  • Genetic diversity
  • Sclerocactus
  • Simple sequence repeats
  • Texas


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