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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Discovery and Genetic Assessment of Wild Bottle Gourd [lagenaria Siceraria (MOL.) Standley; Cucurbitaceae] from Zimbabwe

Authors
item Decker-Walters, Deena - CUCURBIT NETWORK FL
item Wilkins-Ellert, Mary - CUCURBIT NETWORK FL
item Chung, Sang-Min - UNIV OF WI MADISON
item STAUB, JACK

Submitted to: Economic Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2004
Publication Date: February 15, 2004
Citation: Decker-Walters, D., Wilkins-Ellert, M., Chung, S., Staub, J.E. 2004. Discovery and genetic assessment of wild bottle gourd [LAGENARIA SICERARIA (MOL.) STANDLEY' CUCURBITACEAE] from Zimbabwe. Economic Botany. 58:(4)501-508.

Interpretive Summary: Bottle gourd is an edible, medicinal, and otherwise utilitarian domesticated (to make wild plants into cultivatable forms for human consumption) plant species with an ancient distribution. This African native reached Asia and the Americas by 10,000 years ago, probably as a wild species whose fruits had floated across the oceans of the world. It is possible that early man domesticated bottle gourd independently in the America's and in Asia. Independent domestications from wild populations are believed to have occurred in both the Old and New Worlds. However, few wild populations of bottle gourd have been found during recorded history and none has been verified or studied in detail. In 1992, Mary Wilkins-Ellert discovered an unusual wild gourd plant in a remote region of southeastern Zimbabwe. In several experiments she documented the morphology [i.e., plant form (height and flowering cycle) and fruit type] of the collected seed. The genetic make up of an organism can be examined by analysizing its DNA which is the genetic code of life. DNA is in every living cell and is the basis of genes that impart an organisms heredity (the process of genes being transferred from generation to generation). We analyzed the DNA of this gourd collection. The morphological results, as well as results from DNA analysis indicate that the Zimbabwe collection is part of a genetically distinct and wild lineage of bottle gourd. This research provides information on the domestication of bottle gourd and identifies a lineage of gourd previously not known. This information will be useful for the breeding of bottle gourd and the opportunity to use this previously unknown lineage to enchance the gourd germplasm as well as provide genetic material for further evolutionary studies on gourd.

Technical Abstract: Bottle gourd [Lagenaria siceraria (Mol.) Standley] is an edible, medicinal, and otherwise utilitarian domesticated cucurbit with an ancient pantropical distribution. This African native reached Asia and the Americas by 10,000 years ago, probably as a wild species whose fruits had floated across the seas. Independent domestications from wild populations are believed to have occurred in both the Old and New Worlds. However, few wild populations of L. siceraria have been found during recorded history and none has been verified or studied in detail. In 1992, Mary Wilkins-Ellert discovered an unusual free-living plant of Lagenaria in a remote region of southeastern Zimbabwe. Her morphological observations during several plantings of the collected seed, as well as results from two genetic analyses (random amplified polymorphic DNA and chloroplast sequencing), indicate that the Zimbabwe collection is part of a genetically distinct and wild lineage of L. siceraria.

Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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