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PLoS One. 2018 Apr 16;13(4):e0194726. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194726. eCollection 2018.

Genetic diversity and distribution of Senegalia senegal (L.) Britton under climate change scenarios in West Africa.

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Department of Molecular Evolution and Plant Systematics & Herbarium (LZ), Institute of Biology, Leipzig University, Germany.
National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Ibadan, Nigeria.
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Germany.
Department of Forest Engineering, Laboratory of Dendrochronology, Silviculture and Global Change, DendrodatLab-ERSAF, University of Cordoba, Campus de Rabanales, Córdoba, Spain.
Department of Systematic Botany and Functional Biodiversity, Institute of Biology, Leipzig University, Germany.
Department of Community Ecology (BZF), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Halle, Germany.
Department of Botany, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos, Nigeria.


Climate change is predicted to impact species' genetic diversity and distribution. We used Senegalia senegal (L.) Britton, an economically important species distributed in the Sudano-Sahelian savannah belt of West Africa, to investigate the impact of climate change on intraspecific genetic diversity and distribution. We used ten nuclear and two plastid microsatellite markers to assess genetic variation, population structure and differentiation across thirteen sites in West Africa. We projected suitable range, and potential impact of climate change on genetic diversity using a maximum entropy approach, under four different climate change scenarios. We found higher genetic and haplotype diversity at both nuclear and plastid markers than previously reported. Genetic differentiation was strong for chloroplast and moderate for the nuclear genome. Both genomes indicated three spatially structured genetic groups. The distribution of Senegalia senegal is strongly correlated with extractable nitrogen, coarse fragments, soil organic carbon stock, precipitation of warmest and coldest quarter and mean temperature of driest quarter. We predicted 40.96 to 6.34 per cent of the current distribution to favourably support the species' ecological requirements under future climate scenarios. Our results suggest that climate change is going to affect the population genetic structure of Senegalia senegal, and that patterns of genetic diversity are going to influence the species' adaptive response to climate change. Our study contributes to the growing evidence predicting the loss of economically relevant plants in West Africa in the next decades due to climate change.

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