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Tracing the native ancestors of modern Theobroma cacao L. population in Ecuador

Loor Solorzano R.G., Risterucci A.M., Courtois B., Fouet O., Jeanneau M., Rosenquist E., Amores F., Vasco A., Medina M., Lanaud C.. 2009. Tree Genetics and Genomes, 5 (3) : p. 421-433.

The native Theobroma cacao L. population from Ecuador, known as Nacional, is famous for its fine cocoa flavour. From the beginning of the twentieth century, however, it has been subjected to genetic erosion due principally to successive introductions of foreign germplasm whose hybrid descendants gradually replaced the native plantations, implying a decrease in cocoa quality. We attempted to trace this native cacao within a wide pool of modern Ecuadorian cacao population. Three hundred and twenty-two cacao accessions collected from different geographical areas along the pacific coast of Ecuador and maintained in two living collections were analysed using 40 simple-sequence repeat markers. Most of Ecuadorian cacao accessions displayed a high diversity and heterozygosity level. A factorial analysis of correspondence (FAC) showed a continuous variation among them, with a few ones, grouped at an extreme side of the FAC cloud, showing higher levels of homozygosity and lower introgression level by foreign cacaos. A paternity analysis revealed that these highly homozygous individuals are the most probable ancestors of the modern Nacional hybrid pool. These particular accessions studied could represent the native Nacional cacao present in Ecuador before the foreign introductions. Their identification will help to conserve valuable genetic material and to improve cocoa quality in new cacao varieties. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : theobroma cacao; Équateur

Thématique : Génétique et amélioration des plantes; Taxonomie végétale et phyto-géographie

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