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Insight into the wild origin, migration and domestication history of the fine flavour nacional Theobroma cacao L. variety from Ecuador

Loor Solorzano R.G., Fouet O., Lemainque A., Pavek S., Boccara M., Argout X., Amores F., Courtois B., Risterucci A.M., Lanaud C.. 2012. PloS One, 7 (11) : 11 p..

Ecuador's economic history has been closely linked to Theobroma cacao L cultivation, and specifically to the native fine flavour Nacional cocoa variety. The original Nacional cocoa trees are presently in danger of extinction due to foreign germplasm introductions. In a previous work, a few non-introgressed Nacional types were identified as potential founders of the modern Ecuadorian cocoa population, but so far their origin could not be formally identified. In order to determine the putative centre of origin of Nacional and trace its domestication history, we used 80 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers to analyse the relationships between these potential Nacional founders and 169 wild and cultivated cocoa accessions from South and Central America. The highest genetic similarity was observed between the Nacional pool and some wild genotypes from the southern Amazonian region of Ecuador, sampled along the Yacuambi, Nangaritza and Zamora rivers in Zamora Chinchipe province. This result was confirmed by a parentage analysis. Based on our results and on data about pre- Columbian civilization and Spanish colonization history of Ecuador, we determined, for the first time, the possible centre of origin and migration events of the Nacional variety from the Amazonian area until its arrival in the coastal provinces. As large unexplored forest areas still exist in the southern part of the Ecuadorian Amazonian region, our findings could provide clues as to where precious new genetic resources could be collected, and subsequently used to improve the flavour and disease resistance of modern Ecuadorian cocoa varieties. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : flaveur; histoire naturelle; plante sauvage; distribution géographique; marqueur génétique; domestication; provenance; theobroma cacao; pérou; Équateur

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

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