More than sixty percent of cycad species are threatened with extinction, with many existing in small and isolated populations. As a result, understanding their diversity is imperative for their conservation to ensure long-term survival.
In order to understand the diversity of cycads, genetics plays a fundamental role in helping us to identify how populations differ from one another. Australia represents a diversity hotspot for cycads where there are many different species and also many large, clustered and undisturbed populations. This research used next generation DNA sequencing technologies to understand the genetic diversity of cycad populations in the Northern Territory in Australia, namely: Cycas armstrongii, C. calcicola, C. maconochiei ssp. maconochiei and a single hybrid population C. armstrongii x maconochiei. The results of this research revealed new insights into the genetic diversity, and genomic history of our study species which will aid in their future conservation. However, not all genetic diversity of populations was represented in ex-situ botanic garden collections, presenting concerns for their future conservation and reintroduction. The results of this research though conservation management plans will have far-reaching significance for the conservation of these species and their populations, by guiding structured acquisition of seeds from the wild so that genetic diversity can be preserved in botanic gardens. Ultimately this ensure the survival of these wonderful plants for future generations in Australia.
Dr James Clugston from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney presents his work in the video below (online seminar talk given on Tuesday, 6 October 2020).
For details of access to this e-seminar or more information about our seminars and future announcements, please contact Hervé Sauquet.