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PLoS One. 2015 Dec 16;10(12):e0145058. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145058. eCollection 2015.

Applications of Multiple Nuclear Genes to the Molecular Phylogeny, Population Genetics and Hybrid Identification in the Mangrove Genus Rhizophora.

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State Key Laboratory of Biocontrol and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Plant Resources, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.
School of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Engineering, University of Sichuan Science and Engineering, Zigong, China.
School of Life Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China.
Hainan Dongzhai Harbor National Nature Reserve, Haikou, Hainan, China.


The genus Rhizophora is one of the most important components of mangrove forests. It is an ideal system for studying biogeography, molecular evolution, population genetics, hybridization and conservation genetics of mangroves. However, there are no sufficient molecular markers to address these topics. Here, we developed 77 pairs of nuclear gene primers, which showed successful PCR amplifications across all five Rhizophora species and sequencing in R. apiculata. Here, we present three tentative applications using a subset of the developed nuclear genes to (I) reconstruct the phylogeny, (II) examine the genetic structure and (III) identify natural hybridization in Rhizophora. Phylogenetic analyses support the hypothesis that Rhizophora had disappeared in the Atlantic-East Pacific (AEP) region and was re-colonized from the IWP region approximately 12.7 Mya. Population genetics analyses in four natural populations of R. apiculata in Hainan, China, revealed extremely low genetic diversity, strong population differentiation and extensive admixture, suggesting that the Pleistocene glaciations, particularly the last glacial maximum, greatly influenced the population dynamics of R. apiculata in Hainan. We also verified the hybrid status of a morphologically intermediate individual between R. apiculata and R. stylosa in Hainan. Based on the sequences of five nuclear genes and one chloroplast intergenic spacer, this individual is likely to be an F1 hybrid, with R. stylosa as its maternal parent. The nuclear gene markers developed in this study should be of great value for characterizing the hybridization and introgression patterns in other cases of this genus and testing the role of natural selection using population genomics approaches.

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