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Morphological diversity of Huaya India fruits (Melicoccus oliviformis Kunth) in the Maya Lowlands

Jiménez-Rojas, Mónica I., Martínez-Castillo, Jaime, Potter, Daniel, Dzib, Gabriel R., Ballina-Gómez, Horacio S., Latournerie-Moreno, Luis, Andueza-Noh, Rubén H.
Genetic resources and crop evolution 2019 v.66 no.2 pp. 513-522
Melicoccus, flavor, fruits, genetic variation, lowlands, plant genetic resources, seeds, trees, Central America, India, Mexico
The Maya area in Mexico, historically a region of major cultural development in Mesoamerica, has been divided into the Maya Highlands and Maya Lowlands. The Yucatan Peninsula is part of the Maya Lowlands, which has a great diversity of plant genetic resources, including the Huaya India, a tropical perennial tree of the family Sapindaceae. Its fruit is greatly appreciated by the Maya people, but the genetic diversity of this species has not been studied. Here we evaluated the morphological diversity in fruits from eight populations of Huaya India from four representative cultural–geographic zones in the Maya Lowland communities of the Yucatan Peninsula to generate basic knowledge to support the conservation and use of the species. Two populations from each of the four cultural–geographic zones with 10 individuals per population and 15 fruits per individual were evaluated, and four qualitative and 11 quantitative morphological traits of fruits and seeds were measured. Results indicated a high morphological diversity organized in two groups based on fruit size and flavor characteristics. This study highlights the importance of the Maya culture in the generation and maintenance of diversity of the Huaya India, as well as the importance of initiating programs for the management, sustainable utilization and conservation of this species in the Maya Lowlands of Mexico.