Genetic diversity and structure of baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) in southeastern Kenya. uri icon

abstract

  • Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) is an iconic tree of African savannahs. Its multipurpose character and nutritional composition of fruits and leaves offer high economic and social potential for local communities. There is an urgent need to characterize the genetic diversity of the Kenyan baobab populations in order to facilitate further conservation and domestication programmes. This study aims at documenting the genetic diversity and structure of baobab populations in southeastern Kenya. Leaf or bark samples were collected from 189 baobab trees in seven populations distributed in two geographical groups, i.e. four inland and three coastal populations. Nine microsatellite loci were used to assess genetic diversity. Overall, genetic diversity of the species was high and similarly distributed over the populations. Bayesian clustering and principal coordinate analysis congruently divided the populations into two distinct clusters, suggesting significant differences between inland and coastal populations. The genetic differentiation between coastal and inland populations suggests a limited possibility of gene flow between these populations. Further conservation and domestications studies should take into consideration thegeographical origin of trees and more attention should be paid to morphological characterization of fruits and leaves of the coastal and inland populations to understand the causes and the impact of the differentiation.

publication date

  • 2019
  • 2019