Despite the economic importance of mahoganies (Meliaceae) little is known of the pattern of genetic variation within this family of tropical trees. We describe the application of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based polymorphic DNA assay procedure random amplified polymorphic DNAs (RAPDs) to assess the extent of genetic variation between eight mahogany species from four genera. Pronounced genetic differentiation was found between the species and genera. There was a clear separation of Cedrela odorata from the other species, with 95% of the variable amplification products differing, whereas Lovoa trichilioides, Khaya spp. and Swietenia spp. were more closely grouped. These results are consistent with the current taxonomic viewpoint. A number of markers were found to be diagnostic for particular species, which could be of value in determining the status of putative hybrids. The application of RAPDs to the study of genetic variation in mahoganies is discussed in the context of developing genetic conservation and improvement strategies for these species.
- Genetic Improvement
- Genetic variation