Investigation of Genetic and Morphological Variation in the Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu; Arecaceae) in Papua New Guinea

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Background and Aims

The genetic and morphological variation in the sago palm (Metroxylon sagu, Arecaceae) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was investigated.


Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) was used to investigate the genetic structure of 76 accessions of M. sagu, collected in seven wild and semi-wild stands in PNG.

Key Results

An analysis of ten quantitative morphological variables revealed that most of these were mutually correlated. Principal component analyses of the same morphological variables showed that neither armature (presence or absence of spines) nor geographical separation was reflected clearly in the quantitative morphological variation. Similarity matrices of genetic, quantitative morphological, geographical and armature data were tested for pair-wise correlations, using Mantel’s test. The results only showed a significant correlation between genetic and geographical distances. Visual inspection of principal component analyses plots and a neighbour-joining dendrogram based on genetic distances supported this trend, whereas armature showed no relation with genetic distances.


Geographical distribution defines some weak patterns in the genetic variation, whereas the genetic variation does not reflect any patterns in the morphological variation, including armature. The present study supports the accepted taxonomy of M. sagu, recognizing only one species of M. sagu in PNG.

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