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Fruit and seed diversity of domesticated carob (Ceratonia siliqua L.) in Morocco

Fruit and seed diversity of domesticated carob (Ceratonia siliqua L.) in Morocco

Scientia Horticulturae 123(1): 110-116

The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua L.) is an important economic resource for Morocco's rural populations. This species is used in reforestation actions and its cultivation in modern orchards is being undertaken to valorize marginal lands and substitute for drought sensitive species. However, little data is available on its intra-specific variability and its adaptability. Morphological characters of pods and seeds from 13 ecoregions of private-domesticated carob were used to assess phenotypic variation of this species. These stands extend from south-west to north-east and cover a wide range of Morocco's ecoregions. Pods length, width, thickness, seeds number, pulp weight, seeds yield and seeds length, width, thickness and weight were measured for 390 trees (30 trees per ecoregion). Statistically significant differences were found between ecoregions for all characters which were examined, what indicates a high phenotypic diversity. Principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical cluster of all ecoregions lead to identify two major and opposite groups (the northern ecoregions; and the central and south-western ecoregions). Ecoregions of the north of Morocco exhibited the largest and the thickest pods with the highest pulp weight while other ecoregions have relatively short pods but largest proportion of seed yield. Similarly, the northern ecoregions are characterized by the heaviest seeds. A correlation matrix between morphological characters, geographic parameters and precipitation exhibits a positive and a negative correlation of pods thickness and pulp weight with the latitude and the altitude, respectively. Seed yield and weight are negatively and positively correlated to pod width, pod thickness and pulp weight, respectively. In addition, seed weight is positively correlated with the latitude. The geographic pattern of the carob tree and its variability are discussed in this paper.

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Accession: 066225349

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DOI: 10.1016/j.scienta.2009.07.009

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