Background: Gastrodia flabilabella is a mycoheterotrophic orchid that obtains carbohydrates and nutrients from its symbiotic mycorrhizal fungi. The species is an endemic and vulnerable species enlisted in the “A Preliminary Red List of Taiwanese Vascular Plants” according to the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria Version 3.1. G. flabilabella dwells the underground of broadleaf and coniferous forest with richness litter. Based on herbarium records, this species is distributed in central Taiwan. Twenty eight microsatellite loci were developed in G. flabilabella and were tested for cross-species amplification in additional taxa of G. confusoides, G. elata, and G. javanica. We estimated the genetic variation that is valuable for conservation management and the development of the molecular identification system for G. elata, a traditional Chinese medicine herb. Results: Microsatellite primer sets were developed from G. flabilabella using the modified AFLP and magnetic bead enrichment method. In total, 257 microsatellite loci were obtained from a magnetic bead enrichment SSR library. Of the 28 microsatellite loci, 16 were polymorphic, in which the number of alleles ranged from 2 to 15, with the observed heterozygosity ranging from 0.02 to 1.00. In total, 15, 13, and 7 of the loci were found to be interspecifically amplifiable to G. confusoides, G. elata, and G. javanica, respectively. Conclusions: Amplifiable and transferable microsatellite loci are potentially useful for future studies in investigating intraspecific genetic variation, reconstructing phylogeographic patterns among closely related species, and establishing the standard operating system of molecular identification in Gastrodia.
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