Genetic diversity of Spanish Cucurbita pepo landraces: an unexploited resource for summer squash breeding

Autores UPV


Cucurbita pepo is a worldwide cultivated vegetable ofAmerican origin.Most of thewidely grown commercial types are known as summer squashes and belong to the elongated forms of C. pepo ssp. pepo (Cocozelle, Vegetable marrow and Zucchini groups). These forms were developed in Europe after the arrival of the first American landraces through a process of selection and fixation that led to a loss of genetic diversity. Part of the genetic variability of the first American cultigens remains intact in diverse landraces that are still cultivated for self-consumption and sale inlocal markets. Using the first collection of genomic and EST-derived microsatellites that has just become available for the species, we compared the natural variation present in a collection of Spanish landraces with that of a set of commercial varieties and hybrids, representing current summer squash market offerings. A total of 194 alleles allowed us to distinguish all the genotypes, even those that were closely related. In general, Cocozelle and Vegetable marrow, groups with considerably long histories, were more variable than the Zucchini group, of more recent origin. We found significant genetic diversity among landraces.The variation present among landraces belonging to the Zucchini group was larger than that of the commercial cultivars. Cluster, principal coordinate and population structure results suggested that the variation of the Spanish landraces has not been extensively used in breeding. Commercial summer squashes can therefore benefit from this underexploited resource