Genetic Diversity in Gossypium hirsutum and the Origin of Upland Cotton
Percival, A. Edward
Gossypium hirsutum has a large indigenous range encompassing most of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean, where it exhibits a diverse array of morphological forms spanning the wild-to-domesticated continuum. Modem, highly improved varieties ("Upland cotton"), which currently account for about 90% of world cotton commerce, are day-length neutral annuals derived from subtropical, perennial antecedents. To assess levels and patterns of genetic variation in the species and to elucidate the origin of Upland cotton, 538 accessions representing the full spectrum of morphological and geographical diversity were analyzed for allozyme variation at 50 loci. Levels of variation are modest overall but are low in Upland cotton. Relationships among accessions reflect pre-Columbian influences of aboriginal peoples and later European colonists superimposed on the preagricultural pattern. In contrast to expectations, two centers of diversity are evident, one in southern Mexico-Guatemala and the other in the Caribbean. Introgression of G. barbadense genes into G. hirsutum has been common in a broad area of sympatry in the Caribbean. The germplasm of present cultivars traces to Mexican highland stocks, which, in tum, were derived from material originally from southern Mexico and Guatemala. Despite the widespread belief that germplasm from several other species has been incorporated into modem Upland stocks through intentional breeding efforts, the 50 Upland cultivars examined contain no unique alleles, suggesting that retention of genes from transspecific sources has been minimal. The most recent infraspecific treatment, which recognizes seven races, does not adequately represent genetic relationships.