[en] The genus Afzelia Smith (Fabaceae, Caesalpinioideae) is known to have seven African tree species two of which are found in the Zambezian region, one is distributed in the Sudanian region and the four other are endemic to the Guineo-Congolian region. These taxa, of high commercial value, are difficult to identify. They are therefore marketed under the same "doussié" name. These difficulties of distinction can prove detrimental to the sustainable management of populations.
The aim of this doctoral thesis is to characterize the evolutionary history of the Afzelia genus. More specifically, this study aims to: (i) evaluate the level of morphological divergences within the Afzelia genus and describe the phylogenetic relationships in order to quantify the reproductive isolation between taxa by highlighting the role of past climate change and / or ecological gradients in the speciation of the genus; (ii) proceed to an analysis of the spatial genetic diversity and structure of Afzelia spp.; (iii) identify and describe ecological, biotic and abiotic factors that may influence population-level gene flows of an Afzelia species (A. bipindensis).
A morpho-genetic analysis of Afzelia species was carried out and confirmed the strong botanical resemblance between the taxa. The savannah species are diploid and have half the size of the genome of forest species that are tetraploid. The phylogenies of genes (nuclear and chloroplastic) differ from one another and do not allow the separation of tetraploid taxa from one another. Such differences can be generated as a result of episodes of ancestral hybridization between species. These hybridizations would probably be old and would have occurred between lineages of the forest species and A quanzensis (a species of the Zambezian savannahs) lineages. Polyploidy would have occurred between 7 and 9.4 million years in the evolutionary history of the genus. In addition, Bayesian assignment and reproductive isolation analyzes suggested interspecific crosses, but only in forest species distributed sympatrically. At a more limited spatial scale, we observed two well differentiated genetic groups in sympatry in A. bipindensis. These show a morphological differentiation and a phenological shift of flowering which can contribute to their reproductive isolation.
This study highlighted some important points: the discovery of a polyploid complex within the Afzelia genus, the confirmation of the delimitation of the diploid savannah species and the need to revise the delimitation of forest tetraploid species.
Research center :
Foresterie Tropicale/Axe de Gestion des Ressources Forestières/BIOSE/Gembloux Agro-bio Tech