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Botany and Genetics of New Caledonian Wild Taro, Colocasia esculenta

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Title:Botany and Genetics of New Caledonian Wild Taro, Colocasia esculenta
Authors:Ivancic, Anton
Lebot, Vincent
Date Issued:Jul 1999
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:Ivancic A, Lebot V. 1999. Botany and genetics of New Caledonian wild taro, Colocasia esculenta. Pac Sci 53(3): 273-285.
Abstract:Taro, Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott, is considered to be an introduced
crop in New Caledonia and has been cultivated since its introduction
by Melanesian farmers. Wild germplasm exists on the main (continental) island
and is represented by three easily distinguished morphotypes: a morphotype
with purple leaves, another with green leaves, and a third with green leaves
and a purple vein junction on the lamina. All three morphotypes are diploids
(2n = 2x = 28) and have well-established wild populations in many valleys
and gulches of the main island. The morphotype with purple leaves has all typical
traits of a wild genotype (inedible corms; long, thin stolons); the other two
produce edible corms. The purple and the green morphotypes flower and produce
fertile pollen. The spathes of the green morphotype can be more than
40 cm long and the spadix is characterized by an extremely long appendix atypical
for Pacific taros. Isozyme analysis conducted using four enzyme systems
(EST, PGM, PGI, SkDH) indicated that New Caledonian wild taros differ
from most widely grown local cultivars and Pacific cultivated and wild genotypes.
Evidence presented in this study suggests that C. esculenta is an endemic
species to New Caledonia. Cultivars were probably introduced as clones from
what is now Vanuatu by early Melanesian migrants and were not domesticated
locally from existing wild forms, which appear to be genetically distant from
other Melanesian wild taros.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 53, Number 3, 1999

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