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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 806: International Symposium on Underutilized Plants for Food Security, Nutrition, Income and Sustainable Development

INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE, TRADITIONAL MANAGEMENT AND GENETIC DIVERSITY OF THE ENDOGENOUS AGROFORESTRY SPECIES ACKEE (BLIGHIA SAPIDA) IN BENIN

Authors:   M.R.M. Ekué, O. Gailing, R. Finkeldey, O. Eyog-Matig
Keywords:   ethnobotany, tree domestication, AFLPs markers, genetic variation, agroforestry
Abstract:
Blighia sapida (ackee) is a multipurpose species important for the livelihoods of rural populations and is traditionally managed by farmers in different land use systems. This study first addresses farmers’ knowledge on management and perception of variation of the species among different ethnic groups taking into account gender differences. Second, it explores the genetic diversity on amplified fragment length polymorphism markers (AFLPs) of 14 populations sampled in different climatic zones of Benin. Results of both methods are integrated to provide strategies for sustainable domestication and conservation of ackee genetic resources. People have reported nine criteria mostly related to the fruits to differentiate between types. Ackee phenotypes with preferred fruit traits (size, colour, aril taste and oil content) are perceived by local people to be more abundant in managed in situ and cultivated stands than in unmanaged wild populations. Ackee has moderate levels of diversity in Benin (mean and total genetic diversity values are PPL=52.8%, Hj=0.157 respectively for 375 AFLP fragments) and little differentiation among populations and climatic zones (ΦST=0.054, GST=0.022). There are few concerns about genetic erosion within populations managed by farmers in agroforestry systems. In the perspective of an improvement programme, the breeding population should consist of many individual trees selected within a few populations to capture a large proportion of variation. Germplasm collection must also consider the morphological features essential for the users as well as their perspectives for cultivation and improvement. A strategy for the conservation of maximum genetic diversity would be to maximise the genetic distance between populations included in a conservation programme.
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