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Genetics, evolution and conservation of Bromeliaceae

Genetics and Molecular Biology
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  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Medicine


Bromeliaceae is a morphologically distinctive and ecologically diverse family originating in the New World. Three centers of diversity, 58 genera, and about 3,140 bromeliad species are currently recognized. We compiled all of the studies related to the reproductive biology, genetic diversity, and population structure of the Bromeliaceae, and discuss the evolution and conservation of this family. Bromeliads are preferentially pollinated by vertebrates and show marked variation in breeding systems, from predominant inbreeding to predominant outcrossing, as well as constancy in chromosome number (2n = 2x = 50). Autogamous or mixed mating system bromeliads have a high inbreeding coefficient (FIS), while outcrossing species show low FIS. The degree of differentiation among populations (FST)of species ranges from 0.043 to 0.961, which can be influenced by pollen and seed dispersal effects, clonal growth, gene flow rates, and connectivity among populations. The evolutionary history of the Bromeliaceae is poorly known, although some studies have indicated that the family arose in the Guayana Shield roughly 100 Mya. We believe that genetic, cytogenetic, and reproductive data will be essential for diagnosing species status and for assisting conservation programs.

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