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English
Classification of Italian maize (Zea mays L.) germplasm
The early introduction of maize from the newly discovered Americas and the central location of the Mediterranean Basin ensured the Italian peninsula an important role in maize secondary evolution and regional diffusion. The introduction of USA dent hybrids in the late 1950s significantly changed Italian maize cultivation and led to the loss of traditional varieties. In anticipation of such an event, samples of many Italian maize landraces were collected in 1954 and during subsequent years, to be maintained, studied and used as sources of useful genes in breeding programmes. Phenological studies and germplasm relationships were assessed through principal components analysis of 17 important phenological, morphological and geographical characters for 562 Italian maize accessions. These were grouped into 65 agroecotypes; major clusters contained 34 landraces in 9 racial complexes of common ancestors and/or place of origin. A brief description of the landraces and racial complexes is presented. The Italian maize collection is permanently maintained ex situ at the Bergamo Section of the Istituto Sperimentale per la Cerealicoltura, a research Institute of the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole e Forestali.

By Andrea Brandolini  Aureliano Brandolini  

published on No.126, in English
Page 1 to 11

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English
Collecting landscape trees and shrubs in Ukraine for the evaluation of aesthetic quality and adaptation in the north central United States
Past experiences with long-term evaluations of woody landscape plants from Slovenia , Croatia , and Bosnia-Herzegovina in the north central United States indicated that a relatively low proportion of these introductions were well adapted to climatic and soil conditions. Based on these results, criteria were developed to focus future exploration for landscape trees and shrubs from more analogous environments in eastern and central Europe . Application of these criteria identified the forest–steppe transition zone in the northern half of Ukraine as a region with great potential, because of similarities to the north central United States in climatic extremes, soil types and natural plant communities. In 1999, the National Plant Germplasm System of the United States funded a collaborative seed-collection mission involving researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture, Michigan State University and the National Agricultural University of Ukraine. The exploration trip took place between 7 and 26 September 1999 and encompassed ca. 3200 km of travel to wooded sites through the forest–steppe transition zone. Eighty-nine seed collections, including 26 genera and 45 species of trees, shrubs and herbaceous perennials were obtained. The mission, its collections and conditions at collection sites are described in this report.

By M.P. Widrlechner  R.E. Schutzki  V.Y. Yukhnovsky  V.V. Sviatetsky  

published on No.126, in English
Page 12 to 16

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English
Germplasm collection in the ecoregion of Paria Peninsula, Estado Sucre, Venezuela
A mission in communities of smallholder farmers in the Paria Peninsula , Sucre State , Venezuela , collected cultivated and other species of potential agronomic importance. The visit to small and medium-sized local farms and home gardens in 21 localities yielded a total of 141 samples belonging to 19 species. The largest number of samples corresponded to maize (Zea mays) (54), species of edible roots as cassava (Manihot esculenta) (19), white ocumo (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) (10) and Chinese taro (Colocasia esculenta) (4), chilli peppers (Capsicum annuum) (20), pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) (9), and annatto (Bixa orellana) (8). Spices collected were one sample of purple ginger (Zingiber officinale), one of curcuma (Curcuma sp.) and one of black pepper (Piper nigrum L.). Fruits collected included three samples of pineapple, two of carica or papaya (Carica papaya), one of otaheite apple (Spondias cytherea), one of banana (Musa AAB) and two of ‘maracuya’ passion fruit (Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa). Most of the visited farms were so-called ‘conucos’ where small-scale farmers plant limited areas of associated crops including maize, cassava, pumpkin, sweet pepper and banana.

By Víctor Segovia  E. Mazzani  

published on No.126, in English
Page 17 to 20

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English
Plant exploration in the Talysch Mountains of Azerbaijan and Iran
Fifty-four accessions of wild species and crops have been collected in Azerbaijan and Iran . Particular attention was given to the collection of wild species of Beta section Beta and section Corollinae. Section Beta has a wide distribution area in the Mediterranean basin and the northwest Atlantic coast, while section Corollinae has its main distribution in Turkey . The western and southern part of the Caspian Sea probably forms the eastern margin of the distribution area of the wild beet species Beta lomatogona and B. vulgaris subsp. maritima. Populations of both species appeared to suffer from genetic erosion caused by land management changes and overgrazing of growing sites in Azerbaijan and Iran . The authors suggest that an in situ conservation and on-farm management project should be established in Azerbaijan and northwest Iran to rescue the wild beet populations still known to exist in the area visited, and to restore genetic diversity in the areas concerned.

By Z. Akbarov  V.I. Burenin  M.N. Arjmand  V. Hajiyev  L. Frese  

published on No.126, in English
Page 21 to 26

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English
Evaluation of variability in natural populations of peperina (Minthostachys mollis (Kunth.) Griseb.), an aromatic species from Argentina
Commerce in aromatic plant species is expanding. Minthostachys mollis (Kunth.) Griseb, peperina, is among the most intensively cultivated native aromatic species in Córdoba , Argentina . It is valued for its digestive properties and it is also used in the beverage and candy industries. An expanding market for peperina products requires rational exploitation of this valuable resource to prevent irreversible loss of germplasm resulting from over-collecting. Peperina germplasm was collected in situ for characterization and to assess diversity among accessions. Eight collection sites were selected covering a wide range of habitats within the Chaqueña Serrana phytogeographical province . Morphological characteristics, essential oils and topographical, meteorological and soil data were recorded. Regular observations in those areas revealed that plants growing in different locations varied considerably in height and leaf characteristics. Populations that contained a high number of erect plants tended to be smaller and had more branches, probably resulting from intense pruning and subsequent regrowth. The identification of preferred habitats and the characterization of meteorological and soil conditions there will allow reintroduction into depleted areas. The data summarized in this preliminary report indicate the substantial variability of peperina growing in Argentina .For example, when plant height was 30.12–250.28 cm, leaf length ranged from 0.70 to 5.30 cm and leaf width from 0.30 to 2.60 cm. There was also significant variation in essential oil content. For example, pulegone content ranged from 3.90 to 65.10%.

By M. Ojeda  R. Coirini  J. Cosiansi  R. Zapata  J. Zygadlo  

published on No.126, in English
Page 27 to 30

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English
Morphological and isoenzyme variability of taro (Colocasia esculenta L. Schott) germplasm in Cuba
Forty-two accessions of taro (Colocasia esculenta L. Schott), from the genebank of the Research Institute on Tropical Roots and Tubers (INIVIT) were studied. Forty-two characters showing variability in the subterranean and leafy organs were selected. Principal component analysis (PCA) was carried out independently for 16 subterranean and 26 leaf characteristicss, in order to establish a list of minimum descriptors (28) enabling the identification of clones. These were subjected to another PCA, leading to a list of descriptors for the creation of a core collection, with 13 characteristics representing three main groups and eight subgroups. The isoenzyme analysis of esterases and peroxidases allowed characterization of the clones and confirmed that there were no duplicates in the collection studied, as each clone had its characteristic band pattern in the esterase system. Applying Jaccard’s similarity index to the groups derived, it was possible to conclude that there was a strong African and Japanese, as well as Southeast Asian and Philippine influence on the origin of the Cuban accessions. This result could guide future research on the origin of this species in Cuba .

By Z. Fundora Mayor  A.A. Rodríguez Nodals  M.I. Román Gutiérrez  L. Castiñeiras Alfonso  A. Rodríguez Manzano  

published on No.126, in English
Page 31 to 40

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English
Characterization of the Cucurbita pepo collection at the Newe Ya’ar Research Center, Israel
The Cucurbita pepo (pumpkins, squash and gourds) collection at the Newe Ya’ar Research Center consists of seed samples of 320 cultivars, landraces and wild forms. The seed samples were obtained from both public and private sources and include 133 hybrids and 187 open-pollinated forms. Most are named cultivars, but those obtained from plant introduction organizations usually bore only numbers. The samples have been grown out, observed and classified according to subspecies and cultivar-group. Represented are 241 samples of subsp. pepo, 69 of subsp. ovifera, two of subsp. fraterna, two intersubspecific hybrids, and six mixed, subsp. pepo and subsp. ovifera gourds. The cultivar-groups of subsp. pepo contain more than double the number of cultivars of the cultivar-groups of subsp. ovifera. The Pumpkin Group and the Cocozelle Group (both subsp. pepo) contain the most open-pollinated cultivars. The Zucchini Group (subsp. pepo) and the Straightneck Group (subsp. ovifera) contain the highest proportion of hybrid cultivars.

By H. S. Paris  

published on No.126, in English
Page 41 to 45

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Mature fruits of Cucurbita pepo-a selection of species characterized by Paris from the collection at the Newe Ya’ar Research Center, Israel: discussed on pp. 41–45.


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