Molecular markers for tropical trees: statistical analysis of dominant data uri icon


  • Purpose and audience In the last fifteen years, there has been an enormous increase worldwide in the use of molecular markers to assess genetic diversity in trees. These approaches are able to tell us how genetic variation is structured in natural, managed and cultivated tree stands, and they can provide significant insights into the defining features of different species. Molecular techniques can provide more detailed information than phenotypic studies of genetic variation are able to do, knowledge that can then, in theory, be applied to devise more optimal management strategies for trees within natural and human landscapes, in order to benefit users and the environment. Proper genetic management is crucial as trees are planted to combat poverty, fight malnutrition, provide medicines and fulfill other needs, such as the mitigation of climate change and the prevention of soil degradation. As very little information has been available on how genetic variation is structured in the majority of tropical trees, modern molecular methods provide clear opportunities for the quantification of diversity. Despite evident potential, a survey of the literature indicates that the implementation of practical, more optimal management strategies based on results from molecular marker research is to date very limited for tropical trees, both in farmland and forest settings. To explore why this is the case, in 2006 the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) undertook a survey of molecular laboratories in low-income countries in the tropics. Problems in application highlighted by surveyed scientists included a lack of knowledge on the different procedures available for molecular genetic studies, and the absence of guidance on how best to apply methods specifically to tropical trees

publication date

  • 2009