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Phenotypic diversity assessment within a major ex situ collection of wild endemic coffees in Madagascar

Rimlinger A., Raharimalala N., Letort V., Rakotomalala J.J., Crouzillat D., Guyot R., Hamon P., Sabatier S.A.. 2020. Annals of Botany, 126 (5) : p. 849-863.

DOI: 10.1093/aob/mcaa073

Background and Aims: Like other clades, the Coffea genus is highly diversified on the island of Madagascar. The 66 endemic species have colonized various environments and consequently exhibit a wide diversity of morphological, functional and phenological features and reproductive strategies. The trends of interspecific trait variation, which stems from interactions between genetically defined species and their environment, still needed to be addressed for Malagasy coffee trees. Methods: Data acquisition was done in the most comprehensive ex situ collection of Madagascan wild Coffea. The structure of endemic wild coffees maintained in an ex situ collection was explored in terms of morphological, phenological and functional traits. The environmental (natural habitat) effect was assessed on traits in species from distinct natural habitats. Phylogenetic signal (Pagel's ¿, Blomberg's K) was used to quantify trait proximities among species according to their phylogenetic relatedness. Key Results: Despite the lack of environmental difference in the ex situ collection, widely diverging phenotypes were observed. Phylogenetic signal was found to vary greatly across and even within trait categories. The highest values were exhibited by the ratio of internode mass to leaf mass, the length of the maturation phase and leaf dry matter content (ratio of dry leaf mass to fresh leaf mass). By contrast, traits weakly linked to phylogeny were either constrained by the original natural environment (leaf size) or under selective pressures (phenological traits). Conclusions: This study gives insight into complex patterns of trait variability found in an ex situ collection, and underlines the opportunities offered by living ex situ collections for research characterizing phenotypic variation.

Mots-clés : phénologie; variation phénotypique; coffea; plante sauvage; organisme indigène; collection; morphologie végétale; madagascar; collection ex situ

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