Predicting the geographic origin of Spanish cedar (Cedrela odorata L.) based on DNA variation

Kristen N. Finch, Richard C. Cronn*, Marianella C. Ayala Richter, Céline Blanc-Jolivet, Mónica C. Correa Guerrero, Luis De Stefano Beltrán, Carmen R. García-Dávila, Eurídice N. Honorio Coronado, Sonia Palacios-Ramos, Kathelyn Paredes-Villanueva, F. Andrew Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The legality of wood products often depends on their origin, creating a need for forensic tools that verify claims of provenance for wood products. The neotropical tree species Cedrela odorata (Spanish cedar) is economically valuable for its wood and faces threats of overexploitation. We developed a 140 SNP assay for geographic localization of C. odorata specimens. Target capture and short-read sequencing of 46 C. odorata specimens allowed us to identify 140 spatially informative SNPs that differentiate C. odorata specimens by latitude, temperature, and precipitation. We assessed the broad applicability of these SNPs on 356 specimens from eight Cedrela species, three tissue types, and a range of DNA mass inputs. Origin prediction error was evaluated with discrete and continuous spatial assignment methods focusing on C. odorata specimens. Discrete classification with random forests readily differentiated specimens originating in Central America versus South America (5.8% error), while uncertainty increased as specimens were divided into smaller regions. Continuous spatial prediction with SPASIBA showed a median prediction error of 188.7 km. Our results demonstrate that array SNPs and resulting genotypes accurately validate C. odorata geographic origin at the continental scale and show promise for country-level verification, but that finer-scale assignment likely requires denser spatial sampling. Our study underscores the important role of herbaria for developing genomic resources, and joins a growing list of studies that highlight the role of genomic tools for conservation of threatened species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-639
Number of pages15
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number4
Early online date3 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Forensics
  • Genotyping
  • Herbarium genomics
  • Illegal logging
  • Mahogany
  • SNPs


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