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Taxonomic implications of the morphological and genetic variation of cultivated and domesticated populations of the Agave angustifolia complex (Agavoideae, Asparagaceae) in Oaxaca, Mexico

Rivera-Lugo, Miguel, García-Mendoza, Abisaí, Simpson, June, Solano, Eloy, Gil-Vega, Katia
Plant systematics and evolution 2018 v.304 no.8 pp. 969-979
Agave angustifolia, genetic variation, ploidy, Costa Rica, Mexico
The Agave angustifolia complex, distributed from Mexico to Costa Rica, comprises four species and five varieties, including three species used for mescal production. The complex is represented in the Mexican state of Oaxaca by two wild taxa, A. angustifolia var. angustifolia and A. angustifolia var. rubescens, the cultivated form A. angustifolia “Espadín” and the partially cultivated species A. rodacantha. The aims of this study were to investigate the morphological and genetic variation of the A. angustifolia complex in the state of Oaxaca and to identify traits useful for taxonomic delimitation. Four wild and three cultivated populations of A. angustifolia from Oaxaca, one population of A. tequilana from Guanajuato and one population of A. angustifolia from Sonora were sampled for morphological, genetic and cytometric analyses. We showed that cultivated populations of A. angustifolia “Espadin,” A. rhodacantha and A. tequilana could be clearly differentiated from wild populations. Furthermore, the domesticated populations of A. angustifolia, known locally as “Espadin,” had a higher ploidy level and lower genetic variation than their related wild populations. The population of A. angustifolia from Sonora could be recognized as a different entity. Populations of A. rhodacantha need to be studied throughout their entire distribution area to further evaluate their taxonomic delimitation.