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Detection of species and hybrids in Ngā Roimata ō Tōhe, Pimelea eremitica

This project is initiated and led by Te Iwi o Te Roroa.  

Ngā Roimata ō Tōhe (Pimelea eremitica) are a taonga species of Te Roroa, bestowed with a name that reflects the cultural importance of the species, as well as the significance of the site that they naturally occur in.  An endemic low sprawling shrub, Ngā Roimata ō Tōhe is listed as a nationally critical threatened species. 

The only known wild population of Ngā roimata ō Tōhe is found at Maringinoa, an exposed summit of a large basaltic outcrop of Maunganui on the west coast of Te Taitokerau.  The last surveillance operation identified only one individual plant at the summit of Maringinoa.   

For future conservation efforts, identifying how many unique individuals of Ngā Roimata ō Tōhe exist in cultivation and in the remaining wild population are needed, as well as determining whether there are any potential hybrids with other Pimelea species. 

This project will provide genetic analysis to assist in understanding the genetic diversity of remaining individuals of Ngā Roimata ō Tōhe.  The project will also explore opportunities for kaitiaki to connect with relevant research organisations and participate in genetic research pertaining to the conservation of taonga species within the rohe of Te Iwi o Te Roroa.  

Genetic aspects of the work include:

  • Scanning the genome for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), using a genotyping-by-sequencing approach. 
  • Extracting DNA from Pimelea eremitica and other potential hybrid parent species leaf tissues at the Applied Molecular Solutions (AMS) lab at Unitec Te Pūkenga.
  • Creating a DNA library at GenomNZ, AgResearch Invermay. 
  • Performing population genomic analyses at the AMS lab on the resulting genotypic data to assign individuals to a species, identify hybrids, and investigate genetic diversity within Pimelea eremitica from populations from each location.

This genetic diversity knowledge will be used to support an informed breeding plan to expand the genetic base of the species. 

Outcomes

  • Identify how many unique individuals of P. eremitica exist in their endemic place of origin, 
  • Identify how many unique individuals of P. eremitica exist in cultivation at the Auckland Botanical gardens and Te Roroa nursery
  • Determine whether there are any potential hybrids with other Pimelea species from either of these populations. 

Team

  • Taoho Patuawa (Te Iwi o Te Roroa)
  • Sarah Wells (Applied Molecular Sciences Research Centre, Unitec Institute of Technology Te Pukenga) 
  • Peter de Lange (Applied Molecular Sciences Research Centre, Unitec Institute of Technology Te Pukenga) 
  • Mathew Calder (Department of Conservation) 
  • Andrew Townsend (Department of Conservation)