Paternity analysis, pollen flow, and spatial genetic structure of a natural population of Euterpe precatoria in the Brazilian Amazon
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Euterpe precatoria, known as acai do Amazonas, is a regionally important palm of the Amazon rainforest for the fruit production through extractive agriculture. Little information is available with regard to genetic diversity, gene flow, and spatial genetic structure (SGS) of acai populations, which are essential for the use, management, and conservation of genetic resources of the species. This research aimed to assess the genetic diversity, inbreeding level, SGS, and gene flow in four ontogenetic stages of a natural E. precatoria population in the Brazilian Amazon, based on 18 microsatellite loci. The study was carried out in a natural population dispersed in an area of about 10 ha. Leaf tissues of 248 plants were mapped and sampled and classified into four ontogenetic stages: reproductive (59), immature (70), young (60), and seedling (59). Genetic diversity indices were high for all ontogenetic stages. The fixation index (F) for all ontogenetic stages was not significantly different from zero, indicating the absence of inbreeding. A significant SGS was found for all ontogenetic stages (68-110 m), indicating seed dispersal over short distances. Paternity analysis detected pollen immigration of 39.1%, a selfing rate of 4.2%, and a mean pollen dispersal distance within the population of 531 m. The results indicate substantial allele input in the population via pollen immigration, contributing to the maintenance of the genetic diversity of the population. However, within a population, the renewal with new progenies selected from seed plants spaced at least 110 m apart is important to avoid collecting seeds from related plants.