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Diversity and origins of an underutilized tropical fruit tree, cempedak (Artocarpus integer, Moraceae), and its wild relative bangkong (Artocarpus integer var. silvestris)

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The underutilized tropical fruit tree, “cempedak” (Artocarpus integer (Thunb.) Merr. , Moraceae), is a major crop in Malaysia but the distribution of genetic diversity in the crop and its putative wild progenitor, “bangkong” (Artocarpus integer var. silvestris Corner), have not been studied. To investigate the diversity and origins of cempedak, we assessed the genetic diversity of cempedak and bangkong, explored geographic patterns in genetic structure and differentiation, and conducted phylogenetic analyses. We also tested whether cempedak cultivars were true-totype. We used 12 microsatellite loci to genotype 269 cempedak and 187 bangkong individuals from Peninsular Malaysia, 64 cempedak individuals from Borneo, and 12 cempedak samples from other regions. We found that the number of effective alleles (Ne), allelic richness (Ar), Shannon’s Information Index (I), and expected heterozygosity (He) were higher in bangkong populations than cempedak populations, but cempedak populations harbored alleles not found in bangkong populations. In contrast, Borneo cempedak showed overall lower genetic diversity compared to Peninsular cempedak. Both bangkong and cempedak exhibited weak geographic structure within Peninsular Malaysia; but we found evidence for isolation-by-distance among bangkong populations, as well as increased genetic structure in cempedak at a broader geographic scale. Borneo cempedak represented a gene pool distinct from Peninsular cempedak. Results of phylogenetic analyses varied based on the methods used, but indicate that bangkong or Borneo cempedak may be possible progenitors of Peninsular cempedak. Lastly, clonal analysis showed that cempedak cultivar names were not always indicative of genotype, which may be due to multiple reasons such as mislabeling, hybridization, and scoring errors. Although we did not find conclusive evidence regarding the origins of cempedak, this study confirmed that bangkong and Borneo cempedak populations harbor unique genetic variation that should be conserved. We hope that the results of this study will inform further research and conservation strategies for genetic resources of cempedak and other fruit crops in Malaysia and beyond.

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  • 02/01/2019
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