Date: Sunday, January 15, 2012
Time: 5:40 PM
Time: 5:40 PM
Room: Pacific Salon 4-5 (2nd Floor)
The origins of domestication of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) remain unknown despite the prime importance of its cultivation. The date palm derives from wild populations of the same species but to date none is identified for certain. “Spontaneous” populations are reported throughout its range: the Iberian Peninsula, the Sahara, south of the Dead Sea basin, the Arabian Peninsula, the Zagros mountains and Baluchistan. However, cultivated forms may return to the wild to constitute feral populations that cannot be differentiated from the wild ones. It is therefore necessary to develop tools that allow the distinction between wild, feral and cultivated date palms. With this aim, Omani populations of uncultivated date palms were studied using both morphometrics, a method quantifying the geometric structure of seeds, and genetics using 17 microsatellite markers. These uncultivated populations display ancestral shape features. In the Bayesian clustering analysis using genetic data, the cultivated and the uncultivated pools form two different clusters. The genetic diversity (allelic richness, number of private alleles) is higher in the uncultivated cluster. These results seem to indicate that truly wild date palms can be found in Oman. This opens huge and exciting perspectives in the study of the date palm origins.