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Phylogenetic origin of limes and lemons revealed by cytoplasmic and nuclear markers

Franck Curk, Frédérique Ollitrault, Andres Garcia-Lor, François Luro, Luis Navarro, Patrick Ollitrault
Annals of Botany 2016, 117 (4): 565-83

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The origin of limes and lemons has been a source of conflicting taxonomic opinions. Biochemical studies, numerical taxonomy and recent molecular studies suggested that cultivated Citrus species result from interspecific hybridization between four basic taxa (C. reticulata,C. maxima,C. medica and C. micrantha). However, the origin of most lemons and limes remains controversial or unknown. The aim of this study was to perform extended analyses of the diversity, genetic structure and origin of limes and lemons.

METHODS: The study was based on 133 Citrus accessions. It combined maternal phylogeny studies based on mitochondrial and chloroplastic markers, and nuclear structure analysis based on the evaluation of ploidy level and the use of 123 markers, including 73 basic taxa diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and indel markers.

KEY RESULTS: The lime and lemon horticultural group appears to be highly polymorphic, with diploid, triploid and tetraploid varieties, and to result from many independent reticulation events which defined the sub-groups. Maternal phylogeny involves four cytoplasmic types out of the six encountered in the Citrus genus. All lime and lemon accessions were highly heterozygous, with interspecific admixture of two, three and even the four ancestral taxa genomes. Molecular polymorphism between varieties of the same sub-group was very low.

CONCLUSIONS: Citrus medica contributed to all limes and lemons and was the direct male parent for the main sub-groups in combination with C. micrantha or close papeda species (for C. aurata, C. excelsa, C. macrophylla and C. aurantifolia--'Mexican' lime types of Tanaka's taxa), C. reticulata(for C. limonia, C. karna and C. jambhiri varieties of Tanaka's taxa, including popular citrus rootstocks such as 'Rangpur' lime, 'Volkamer' and 'Rough' lemons), C. aurantium (for C. limetta and C. limon--yellow lemon types--varieties of Tanaka's taxa) or the C. maxima × C. reticulate hybrid (for C. limettioides--'Palestine sweet' lime types--and C. meyeri). Among triploid limes, C. latifolia accessions ('Tahiti' and 'Persian' lime types) result from the fertilization of a haploid ovule of C. limon by a diploid gamete of C. aurantifolia, while C. aurantifolia triploid accessions ('Tanepao' lime types and 'Madagascar' lemon) probably result from an interspecific backcross (a diploid ovule of C. aurantifolia fertilized by C. medica). As limes and lemons were vegetatively propagated (apomixis, horticultural practices) the intra-sub-group phenotypic diversity results from asexual variations.


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