GENETIC DIVERSITY AND STRUCTURE OF MACAW PALM: IMPLICATIONS FOR GENETIC VARIABILITY SAMPLING

ABSTRACT The macaw palm, Acrocomia aculeata (Jacq.) Lodd. ex Mart., is a Brazilian native species with great potential for biofuel production. The aim of this work was to analyze macaw palm genetic diversity to structure and assist in the definition of sampling strategies for germplasm banks. Forty-six microsatellite markers, from which seven polymorphic markers were used to evaluate 103 macaw palm individuals collected from different Brazilian locations. The polymorphic markers were used to generate a dissimilarity matrix by weighted index. The imaging of genetic variability was realized by 3D projection of matrix dissimilarity. Sixty-seven individuals had their ITS region sequenced and aligned, and the mutations found were used to generate a haplotype network. The average genetic distance identified between individuals was 76.2%, ranging from 3.7 to 100%. Genetic variability structure was not found. ITS region sequencing of the 67 individuals revealed four polymorphic sites, defining four haplotypes. The results of this study suggest that historically, macaw populations were strongly connected, indicating a recent population expansion of the species. The results indicate that macaw genetic variety sampling should focus on effective collection in selected locations. Areas such as Caatinga and Humid Chaco however, could present new sources of genetic variability, and should be studied.