Title : Ensuring survival of the Ghanaian endemic and critically endangered Talbotiella Gentii through recent advances in science
Talbotiella gentii, a Ghanaian endemic and critically endangered tree species is severely threatened to extinction from over exploitation for fuelwood and charcoal production, wildfire, farming, habitat loss, construction, mining, quarrying, climate change and pollution. The few remaining Talbotiella populations grow in isolated patches in and off reserves. Populations in forest reserves are partially under protection by Forest Services Division (FSD) of Ghana while off reserve unprotected populations are under the care of local communities.Talbotiella is locally used as herbal medicine for treatment of stomach ulcer, for construction of timber bridges and roofing of buildings. Protecting Talbotiella from extinction through advances in science has become very critical to safeguard the few extant populations.
In using molecular (DNA) markers to characterize genetic diversity in Talbotiella, RAPD proved to be very efficient tool for assessment. High population differentiation value of 0.941 obtained from Amova suggests that populations of Talbotiella are highly structured with high population similarity between individuals within each population. Absence of insect pollinators, low fruit and seed set and high rate of fruit abortion were recorded and have contributed to fragmentation of Talbotiella population as low genetic exchange occur between populations, causing inbreeding and genetic drift which could threaten the species’ fitness and long term survival. Flowers of Talbotiella are infested with fungi that infect all reproductive parts of the species, however, the stigmatic surface is mainly infested with Fusarium verticilloides. High performance rate of Talbotiella seedlings in situ and ex situ plantation trials suggests that the species can successfully be conserved by in situ and ex situ plantations. Outcrossing showed much improvement in seed quality in terms of weight, germination and seedling survival therefore seeds from outcrossing may show better performance in in situ and ex situ plantations.