Genetic differentation in the Agave deserti (Agavaceae) complex in the Sonoran Desert.

Navarro-Quezada, A.
González, R.
F. Molina-Freaner
L. E. Eguiarte
Revista y/o libro: 
90, 220-227
The Agave deserti complex, comprising A. deserti, A. cerulata and A. subsimplex, represents a group of species and subspecies with a near allopatric distribution and clear differences in morphology. Genetic differentiation and taxonomic status with respect to spatial distribution of 14 populations of the complex were analyzed in an effort to understand the evolution and speciation process within the genus. Allelic frequencies, levels of genetic variation, expected heterozygosity (HS), proportion of polymorphic loci (P), and genetic differentiation (theta and Nei's genetic distance) were estimated using 41 putative RAPD loci. All three species show high levels of genetic variation (HS=0.12–0.29, P=63.4–95.1), and low genetic differentiation between populations and species (theta populations=0.14plusminus0.02 (SE); Gst=0.11plusminus0.02). Accordingly, gene flow among populations was estimated as high by three different methods (Nm=2.91–6.14). Nei's genetic distances between the three species were low compared to the values obtained from other Agavaceae, and there was no clear correlation with taxonomic divisions. In a UPGMA analysis, A. subsimplex and A. cerulata formed exclusive monospecific clusters, whereas the A. deserti populations appear in more than one cluster together with other species. The results were consistent with a pattern of genetic isolation by distance.