In the last decade, there has been an enormous increase worldwide in the use of molecular marker methods to assess genetic variation in trees. These approaches can provide significant insights into the defining features of different taxa and this information may be used to define appropriate management strategies for species.

However, a survey of the literature indicates that the implementation of practical, more optimal management strategies based on results from molecular marker research is very limited to date for tropical trees. In order to explore why this is the case, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) undertook a survey of molecular laboratories in low-income countries in the tropics. This survey looked at the kinds of molecular marker studies that were being carried out on tree species, and the problems faced by scientists in this research.

One of the constraints that ICRAF’s survey identified for the proper application of molecular markers is the effective handling and analysis of data sets once they have been generated. This guide has been designed to address this need for data obtained using dominant marker techniques. It has been created especially for students (MSc, PhD) and other researchers in developing countries that find themselves isolated from their peers and – when faced with an apparently bewildering array of options – find it difficult to settle on appropriate methods for analysis.

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