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1.  Round and large: morphological and genetic consequences of artificial selection on the gourd tree Crescentia cujete by the Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico 
Annals of Botany  2012;109(7):1297-1306.
Background and Aims
Artificial selection, the main driving force of domestication, depends on human perception of intraspecific variation and operates through management practices that drive morphological and genetic divergences with respect to wild populations. This study analysed the recognition of varieties of Crescentia cujete by Maya people in relation to preferred plant characters and documents ongoing processes of artificial selection influencing differential chloroplast DNA haplotype distribution in sympatric wild and home-garden populations.
Fifty-three home gardens in seven villages (93 trees) and two putative wild populations (43 trees) were sampled. Through semi-structured interviews we documented the nomenclature of varieties, their distinctive characters, provenance, frequency and management. Phenotypic divergence of fruits was assessed with morphometric analyses. Genetic analyses were performed through five cpDNA microsatellites.
Key Results
The Maya recognize two generic (wild/domesticated) and two specific domesticated (white/green) varieties of Crescentia cujete. In home gardens, most trees (68 %) were from domesticated varieties while some wild individuals (32 %) were tolerated. Cultivation involves mainly vegetative propagation (76 %). Domesticated fruits were significantly rounder, larger and with thicker pericarp than wild fruits. Haplotype A was dominant in home gardens (76 %) but absent in wild populations. Haplotypes B–F were found common in the wild but at low frequency (24 %) in home gardens.
The gourd tree is managed through clonal and sexual propagules, fruit form and size being the main targets of artificial selection. Domesticated varieties belong to a lineage preserved by vegetative propagation but propagation by seeds and tolerance of spontaneous trees favour gene flow from wild populations. Five mutational steps between haplotypes A and D suggest that domesticated germplasm has been introduced to the region. The close relationship between Maya nomenclature and artificial selection has maintained the morphological and haplotypic identity (probably for centuries) of domesticated Crescentia despite gene flow from wild populations.
PMCID: PMC3359923  PMID: 22499854
Artificial selection; Bignoniaceae; Crescentia cujete; domestication; Maya; Mesoamerica; microsatellites; traditional plant management
2.  Evolution under domestication: ongoing artificial selection and divergence of wild and managed Stenocereus pruinosus (Cactaceae) populations in the Tehuacán Valley, Mexico 
Annals of Botany  2010;106(3):483-496.
Background and Aims
The Tehuacán Valley in Mexico is a principal area of plant domestication in Mesoamerica. There, artificial selection is currently practised on nearly 120 native plant species with coexisting wild, silvicultural and cultivated populations, providing an excellent setting for studying ongoing mechanisms of evolution under domestication. One of these species is the columnar cactus Stenocereus pruinosus, in which we studied how artificial selection is operating through traditional management and whether it has determined morphological and genetic divergence between wild and managed populations.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 83 households of three villages to investigate motives and mechanisms of artificial selection. Management effects were studied by comparing variation patterns of 14 morphological characters and population genetics (four microsatellite loci) of 264 plants from nine wild, silvicultural and cultivated populations.
Key Results
Variation in fruit characters was recognized by most people, and was the principal target of artificial selection directed to favour larger and sweeter fruits with thinner or thicker peel, fewer spines and pulp colours others than red. Artificial selection operates in agroforestry systems favouring abundance (through not felling plants and planting branches) of the preferred phenotypes, and acts more intensely in household gardens. Significant morphological divergence between wild and managed populations was observed in fruit characters and plant vigour. On average, genetic diversity in silvicultural populations (HE = 0·743) was higher than in wild (HE = 0·726) and cultivated (HE = 0·700) populations. Most of the genetic variation (90·58 %) occurred within populations. High gene flow (NmFST > 2) was identified among almost all populations studied, but was slightly limited by mountains among wild populations, and by artificial selection among wild and managed populations.
Traditional management of S. pruinosus involves artificial selection, which, despite the high levels of gene flow, has promoted morphological divergence and moderate genetic structure between wild and managed populations, while conserving genetic diversity.
PMCID: PMC2924835  PMID: 20729372
Columnar cacti; Stenocereus pruinosus; Cactaceae; crop evolution; domestication; Mesoamerica; traditional plant management
3.  Interspecific gene flow in a multispecies oak hybrid zone in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico 
Annals of Botany  2010;105(3):389-399.
Background and Aims
Interspecific gene flow can occur in many combinations among species within the genus Quercus, but simultaneous hybridization among more than two species has been rarely analysed. The present study addresses the genetic structure and morphological variation in a triple hybrid zone formed by Q. hypoleucoides, Q. scytophylla and Q. sideroxyla in north-western Mexico.
A total of 247 trees from ten reference and 13 presumed intermediate populations were characterized using leaf shape variation and geometric morphometrics, and seven nuclear microsatellites as genetic markers. Discriminant function analysis was performed for leaf shape variation, and estimates of genetic diversity and structure, and individual Bayesian genetic assignments were obtained.
Key Results
Reference populations formed three completely distinct groups according to discriminant function analysis based on the morphological data, and showed low, but significant, genetic differentiation. Populations from the zone of contact contained individuals morphologically intermediate between pairs of species in different combinations, or even among the three species. The Bayesian admixture analysis found that three main genetic clusters best fitted the data, with good correspondence of reference populations of each species to one of the genetic clusters, but various degrees of admixture evidenced in populations from the contact area.
The three oak species have formed a complex hybrid zone that is geographically structured as a mosaic, and comprising a wide range of genotypes, including hybrids between different species pairs, backcrosses and probable triple hybrids.
PMCID: PMC2826251  PMID: 20056653
Altitudinal cline; hybridization; introgression; leaf shape variation; Mexico; nuclear microsatellites; Quercus scytophylla; Quercus sideroxyla; Quercus hypoleucoides; red oak

Results 1-3 (3)