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Psidium guajava in the Galapagos Islands: population genetics and history of an invasive species

By Diego Urquia, Bernardo Gutierrez, Gabriela Pozo, María José Pozo, Analía Espín, María de Lourdes Torres

Posted 28 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/402693 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203737)

The threat of invasive plant species in island populations prompts the need to better understand their population genetics and dynamics. In the Galapagos islands, this is exemplified by the introduced guava (Psidium guajava), considered one of the greatest threats to the local biodiversity due to its effective spread in the archipelago and its ability to outcompete endemic species. To better understand its history and genetics, we analyzed individuals from three inhabited islands in the Galapagos archipelago with 11 SSR markers. Our results reveal similar genetic diversity between islands, suggestive of gene flow between them. Populations appear to be distinct between the islands of San Cristobal and Isabela, with the population of Santa Cruz being composed as a mixture from both. Additional evidence for genetic bottlenecks and the inference of introduction events suggests an original introduction of the species in San Cristobal, from where it was later introduced to Isabela, and finally into Santa Cruz. Alternatively, an independent introduction event for Isabela is also possible. These results are contrasted with the historical record, providing a first overview of the history of P. guajava in the Galapagos islands and its current population dynamics.

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