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Vinceti B.,Headquarters | Loo J.,Headquarters | Gaisberger H.,Headquarters | van Zonneveld M.J.,Regional Office for the Americas | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Conservation priorities for Prunus africana, a tree species found across Afromontane regions, which is of great commercial interest internationally and of local value for rural communities, were defined with the aid of spatial analyses applied to a set of georeferenced molecular marker data (chloroplast and nuclear microsatellites) from 32 populations in 9 African countries. Two approaches for the selection of priority populations for conservation were used, differing in the way they optimize representation of intra-specific diversity of P. africana across a minimum number of populations. The first method (S1) was aimed at maximizing genetic diversity of the conservation units and their distinctiveness with regard to climatic conditions, the second method (S2) at optimizing representativeness of the genetic diversity found throughout the species' range. Populations in East African countries (especially Kenya and Tanzania) were found to be of great conservation value, as suggested by previous findings. These populations are complemented by those in Madagascar and Cameroon. The combination of the two methods for prioritization led to the identification of a set of 6 priority populations. The potential distribution of P. africana was then modeled based on a dataset of 1,500 georeferenced observations. This enabled an assessment of whether the priority populations identified are exposed to threats from agricultural expansion and climate change, and whether they are located within the boundaries of protected areas. The range of the species has been affected by past climate change and the modeled distribution of P. africana indicates that the species is likely to be negatively affected in future, with an expected decrease in distribution by 2050. Based on these insights, further research at the regional and national scale is recommended, in order to strengthen P. africana conservation efforts. © 2013 Vinceti et al. Source


Russell J.,James Hutton Institute | Van Zonneveld M.,Regional Office for the Americas | Dawson I.K.,James Hutton Institute | Booth A.,James Hutton Institute | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

Describing genetic diversity in wild barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum) in geographic and environmental space in the context of current, past and potential future climates is important for conservation and for breeding the domesticated crop (Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare). Spatial genetic diversity in wild barley was revealed by both nuclear- (2,505 SNP, 24 nSSR) and chloroplast-derived (5 cpSSR) markers in 256 widely-sampled geo-referenced accessions. Results were compared with MaxEnt-modelled geographic distributions under current, past (Last Glacial Maximum, LGM) and mid-term future (anthropogenic scenario A2, the 2080s) climates. Comparisons suggest large-scale post-LGM range expansion in Central Asia and relatively small, but statistically significant, reductions in range-wide genetic diversity under future climate. Our analyses support the utility of ecological niche modelling for locating genetic diversity hotspots and determine priority geographic areas for wild barley conservation under anthropogenic climate change. Similar research on other cereal crop progenitors could play an important role in tailoring conservation and crop improvement strategies to support future human food security. © 2014 Russell et al. Source


Thomas E.,Regional Office for the Americas | van Zonneveld M.,Regional Office for the Americas | van Zonneveld M.,Ghent University | Loo J.,Headquarters | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Cacao (Theobroma cacao L.) is indigenous to the Amazon basin, but is generally believed to have been domesticated in Mesoamerica for the production of chocolate beverage. However, cacao's distribution of genetic diversity in South America is also likely to reflect pre-Columbian human influences that were superimposed on natural processes of genetic differentiation. Here we present the results of a spatial analysis of the intra-specific diversity of cacao in Latin America, drawing on a dataset of 939 cacao trees genotypically characterized by means of 96 SSR markers. To assess continental diversity patterns we performed grid-based calculations of allelic richness, Shannon diversity and Nei gene diversity, and distinguished different spatially coherent genetic groups by means of cluster analysis. The highest levels of genetic diversity were observed in the Upper Amazon areas from southern Peru to the Ecuadorian Amazon and the border areas between Colombia, Peru and Brazil. On the assumption that the last glaciation (22,000-13,000 BP) had the greatest pre-human impact on the current distribution and diversity of cacao, we modeled the species' Pleistocene niche suitability and overlaid this with present-day diversity maps. The results suggest that cacao was already widely distributed in the Western Amazon before the onset of glaciation. During glaciations, cacao populations were likely to have been restricted to several refugia where they probably underwent genetic differentiation, resulting in a number of genetic clusters which are representative for, or closest related to, the original wild cacao populations. The analyses also suggested that genetic differentiation and geographical distribution of a number of other clusters seem to have been significantly affected by processes of human management and accompanying genetic bottlenecks. We discuss the implications of these results for future germplasm collection and in situ, on farm and ex situ conservation of cacao. © 2012 Thomas et al. Source


Trognitz B.,AIT Austrian Institute of Technology | Trognitz B.,Growth Science | Cros E.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Assemat S.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The sensory quality and the contents of quality-determining chemical compounds in unfermented and fermented cocoa from 100 cacao trees (individual genotypes) representing groups of nine genotype spectra (GG), grown at smallholder plantings in the municipality of Waslala, Nicaragua, were evaluated for two successive harvest periods. Cocoa samples were fermented using a technique mimicking recommended on-farm practices. The sensory cocoa quality was assessed by experienced tasters, and seven major chemical taste compounds were quantified by near infrared spectrometry (NIRS). The association of the nine, partially admixed, genotype spectra with the analytical and sensory quality parameters was tested. The individual parameters were analyzed as a function of the factors GG and harvest (including the date of fermentation), individual trees within a single GG were used as replications. In fermented cocoa, significant GG-specific differences were observed for methylxanthines, theobromine-to-caffeine (T/C) ratio, total fat, procyanidin B5 and epicatechin, as well as the sensory attributes global score, astringency, and dry fruit aroma, but differences related to harvest were also apparent. The potential cocoa yield was also highly determined by the individual GG, although there was significant tree-to-tree variation within every single GG. Non-fermented samples showed large harvest-to-harvest variation of their chemical composition, while differences between GG were insignificant. These results suggest that selection by the genetic background, represented here by groups of partially admixed genotype spectra, would be a useful strategy toward enhancing quality and yield of cocoa in Nicaragua. Selection by the GG within the local, genetically segregating populations of seed-propagated cacao, followed by clonal propagation of best-performing individuals of the selected GG could be a viable alternative to traditional propagation of cacao by seed from open pollination. Fast and gentle air-drying of the fermented beans and their permanent dry storage were an efficient and comparatively easy precondition for high cocoa quality. © 2013 Trognitz et al. Source


Galluzzi G.,Regional Office for the Americas | Thomas E.,Regional Office for the Americas | Van Zonneveld M.,Sub regional Office for the Americas | Salamanca A.F.E.,Centro Internacional Of Agricultura Tropical | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Peach palm (Bactris gasipaes Kunth) has had a central place in the livelihoods of people in the Americas since pre-Columbian times, notably for its edible fruits and multi-purpose wood. The botanical taxon includes both domesticated and wild varieties. Domesticated var gasipaes is believed to derive from one or more of the three wild types of var. chichagui identified today, although the exact dynamics and location of the domestication are still uncertain. Drawing on a combination of molecular and phenotypic diversity data, modeling of past climate suitability and existing literature, we present an integrated hypothesis about peach palm's domestication. We support a single initial domestication event in south western Amazonia, giving rise to var. chichagui type 3, the putative incipient domesticate. We argue that subsequent dispersal by humans across western Amazonia, and possibly into Central America allowed for secondary domestication events through hybridization with resident wild populations, and differential human selection pressures, resulting in the diversity of present-day landraces. The high phenotypic diversity in the Ecuadorian and northern Peruvian Amazon suggest that human selection of different traits was particularly intense there. While acknowledging the need for further data collection, we believe that our results contribute new insights and tools to understand domestication and dispersal patterns of this important native staple, as well as to plan for its conservation. © 2015 Galluzzi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

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