Genetic diversity of populations of the dioecious Myrsine coriacea (Primulaceae) in the Atlantic Forest

ABSTRACT Although a species’ sexual system may influence the genetic diversity of its populations in their natural environment, there have been few such studies involving indigenous species of the Atlantic Forest. Here we study Myrsine coriacea, a dioecious tree widely used in reforestation programs despite a lack of information about its natural interpopulation genetic variation. To address this knowledge gap, intra- and interpopulation genetic diversity were measured for male and female individuals of ten natural populations using ISSR markers. Greater intrapopulation genetic diversity indicated interpopulation gene flow, regardless of isolation and distance between populations. Multivariate analyses detected significant differences in genetic diversity between populations, but not between males and females, which indicates that genetic diversity did not differ between the two sex morphs. Distance between populations was unrelated to genetic diversity. Myrsine coriacea has not experienced a loss of genetic variability despite the characteristic segregated spatial distribution of its populations. These results suggest that obligatory cross-pollination and dispersal by birds may be important mechanisms for the maintenance of genetic diversity in natural populations of M. coriacea.