Submitted to: Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/18/2005
Publication Date: 10/26/2007
Citation: Meerow, A.W., Stevenson, D., Moynihan, J., Francisco-Ortega, J. 2007. Unlocking the coontie conundrum: the potential of microsatellite DNA studies in the Caribbean Zamia pumila complex (Zamiaceae). Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden. 98:484-518. Interpretive Summary: Cycads have fascinated the plant-oriented general public for years because of their antiquity, novelty and association with dinosaurs. They are also valued ornamentals in the subtropics, tropics and in conservatories. Cycads are also considered threatened and endangered plants wherever they occur in the world (all are listed on CITES Appendix II). The genus Zamia is a cycad group restricted to the Americas. We have developed a set of genetic markers (microsatellite DNA or simple sequence repeat) from Z. integrifolia that we will use to study variation in the Caribbean Zamia complex. We believe that the results of the proposed research will have important application to the conservation biology of the genus, and will be extremely useful for developing conservation priorities for Zamia in the Caribbean and Florida. It is also likely than a sizable number of our markers will be able to be used for such purposes in other regions of diversity for the genus in America.
Technical Abstract: The Zamia pumila complex (Cycadales: Zamiaceae) is a monophyletic, diploid (2n = 16) and distinctive assemblage of cycad populations restricted to the West Indies and southeastern U. S. that has been treated as comprising as many as 14 or as few as one species. We have developed a microsatellite (simple sequence repeat, SSR) DNA library from Z. integrifolia that we will use to study variation in the complex and apply these data to various evolutionary and biogeographic questions. Our overall goal is to document the patterns of microsatellite DNA variation across populations of the Zamia pumila complex throughout its range, infer population structure and biogeographic and demographic history of the complex, and attempt to understand the processes of speciation within the group. We have already designed 22 SSR primer pairs that are successfully capturing polymorphism in Zamia, and have only screened 15% of our library of potential SSR containing clones.