Fingerprinting of full and half-sib black wattle (Acacia mearnsii) progenies using Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD).
Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii), which belongs to the genus Acacia, is one of the many species of trees or hardwoods grown commercially in South Africa. Black wattle is a species indigenous to Australia and was introduced into South Africa by the van der Plank brothers in 1864. These trees are grown in South Africa because of its tannin-rich bark, the extract of which is used by the leather tanning industry. Black wattle is also grown for its timber, timber products and pulp. The introduction and cultivation history of black wattle suggests that the South African plantations contain limited genetic variation with relatedness amongst groups estimated to be high, thus implying a narrow genetic base in the South African black wattle population. In this investigation, Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) was used to estimate the genetic variation between seven different black wattle groups. A total number of 34 individuals obtained from different areas in South Africa were examined; Piet Retief (group 47 and 50: half-sibs), Kumbula (group 85: unrelated individuals), Howick (group 400: unrelated individuals) and an unknown area (groups 88, 89, 91: full-sibs). As this investigation was the first of its kind, a DNA isolation method as well as a PCR-RAPD protocol had to be modified. Total genomic DNA was successfully extracted using the CTAB DNA extraction method. This method removed large amounts of tannin present in the cells of the black wattle leaves and extracted high quality DNA to conduct between 50-100 RAPD reactions. The DNA purities ranged from 0.1 to 1.8, with an average of 1.46. A total of fourteen 10-mer RAPD primer sequences were randomly selected from the Operon Technologies primer list A, and tested in this investigation. Of the 14 primers used, only nine primers produced clear, single and repeatable bands. Therefore nine primers were selected for subsequent analyses. Ninety one loci that generated bands ranging from 300-3050 base pairs were produced. Seven to 13 loci per primer were generated. A total of 95.6 % of the loci were polymorphic. The overall expected mean heterozygosity (H = 0.3) obtained in this study was high in comparison to other studies conducted on acacias. The high levels of genetic variation were attributed to mating systems, dissortative mating and geographic distribution. The statistical packages POPGENE and ARLEQUIN were used to analyse the RAPD fingerprints. The genetic measures, Nei's diversity and Shannon's Information Index, showed that there was greater diversity exhibited (Nei's gene diversity = 32.09 % and Shannon's = 48.31 %), in the whole population than in each of the groups (with average of Nei's gene diversity = 20.33 % and Shannon's = 34.64 %). With regards to individual group analyses, low levels of genetic variation was obtained in group 400 (unrelated), from the Howick region, and group 85 (unrelated), from the Kumbula region, (mean 0.14 and 0.17 respectively). The low genetic values were attributed to limited gene exchange occurring in these two areas, bottlenecks and selection pressures. Groups 88, 89 and 91, from the unknown region (full-sib groups), were the most variable in comparison to the other groups, with means of (0.27,0.24 and 0.18 respectively). These high genetic variation values could be due to the fact that gene migration could have occurred between these groups and others in the area. It is thought that most acacias are insect-pollinated and this could have lead to gene migration between groups or populations, thereby explaining the high mean values. The gene flow obtained for the seven groups (FST = 0.174) indicated that great genetic differentiation existed in this population of black wattle studied. This value is higher in comparison to other woody species; however it is similar to other acacia species. UPGMA cluster analysis using Nei's unbiased genetic distance, revealed four distinct clusters of groups corresponding to the distribution areas represented in this study. The Howick (group 400: unrelated) and Kumbula (group 85: unrelated) were more closely related to each other than to the other groups, since both these groups are from Natal. The Piet Retief groups (groups 47 and 50: half-sibs), branched-off together, indicating that they are distinct from the other groups. The pairwise analysis of identity showed that the relationship between the group from Howick (group 400: unrelated) and all the other groups from the other regions was the lowest, ranging from 64 % to 79 %. The relationship between all the groups beside the group from Howick (group 400: unrelated) was reasonably high, ranging from 78 % to 90 %. This distance displayed by group 400 (unrelated) from Howick in relation to the groups, is attributed to the fact that it is frost resistant and the other groups not. Genetic variation was also detected and partitioned, between and within groups, by Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMQVA). Majority of the variation existed within groups (82.65 %) but significant differentiation was recorded between groups (17.44 %). This high level of within group differentiation may be explained by many aspects, such as the species breeding system, genetic drift or genetic isolation of groups or populations. The application of RAPD fingerprinting in black wattle has provided a more in depth understanding of the genetic variation residing in the South African population. The results achieved implementing this technique has shown that significant genetic variation exists within the black wattle population in South Africa. The results obtained in this study are also important since it is contrary to the expectation that the black wattle population in South Africa has low genetic variation. This knowledge is of great value to genetically discriminate between individuals or groups, to improve the selection of superior genotypes and allowing improved quality control in breeding programmes and seed orchard management.