|Author: ||M.A. Pagnotta|
|Keywords: ||genetic stability, hereditability, molecular DNA markers, field performance|
Cynara cardunculus L., particularly artichoke, is an important horticultural crop in Italy as well as in France and Spain.
Agronomic management of this crop is challenging as traditional cultivars typically consist of heterogeneous populations. Cynara domestication has been started in Roman age, but due to: (a) its breeding system, (b) its phylogeny, including three interfertile sub species, (c) its high heterozygosity, and (d) its great phenotype plasticity; it is still under process and hence it could be considered an “uncivilized” crop.
It could be used for a wide range of purposes that include: (i) food (typical of the Mediterranean diet), (ii) lignocellulosic biomass for energy and paper pulp, (iii) seed oil for biodiesel fuel production, (iv) beverage, (v) nutraceutical purposes, and (vi) as ornamental.
It has important nutraceutical properties known from the Roman age, but in recent time scientific evidence supports its use in the treatment for/or to prevent several human diseases.
The main results of the studies on the Cynara genetic resources variability at morphological, biochemical and molecular level conducted within the frame of the European CYNARES project are reported.
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