Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Eric von Wettberg

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

M. Patrick Griffith

Third Advisor's Name

Joyce Maschinski

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jennifer Richards


RAD, population genetics, Cactaceae, conservation

Date of Defense



Rare plant conservation efforts must utilize current genetic methods to ensure the evolutionary potential of populations is preserved. One such effort involves the Key Tree Cactus, Pilosocereus robinii, which is an endangered columnar cactus native to the Florida Keys. The populations have precipitously declined over the past decade because of habitat loss and increasing soil salinity from rising sea levels and storm surge. Next-generation DNA sequencing was used to assess the genetic structure of the populations. Twenty individuals representative of both wild and extirpated cacti were chosen for Restriction Site Associated DNA (RAD) analysis. Samples processed using the HindIII and NotIII restriction enzymes produced 82,382,440 high quality reads used for genetic mapping, from which 5,265 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) were discovered. The analysis revealed that the Keys’ populations are closely related with little population differentiation. In addition, the populations display evidence of inbreeding and low genetic diversity.





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