AuthorRoutson, Kanin Josif
KeywordsCrop Wild Relatives
Arid Lands Resource Sciences
AdvisorNabhan, Gary P.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 28-Oct-2012
AbstractHuman-induced land degradation and climate change can reduce agricultural productivity and increase susceptibility to food shortages at local and global scales. Planting perennial crop species, such as fruit and nut crops, may be an intervention strategy because of their beneficial contributions to sustainable agriculture and human nutrition. Many perennial temperate fruit and nut species are however, particularly vulnerable to frost events, drought, insufficient chill hours, and disease and insect outbreaks. Modifying these species to yield harvests under a wider range of biotic and abiotic conditions may increase the value and long-term viability of perennials in agroecosystems. This dissertation examines adaptation and ecogeography in temperate perennial fruit crops, using apple (Malus sensu lato) as an example for case studies. The resilience of feral domestic apple trees in abandoned farmstead orchards throughout the southwestern U.S. indicates plasticity in adapting to local environmental conditions. Dendrochronology reveals these trees tend to persist where they have access to supplemental water, either as shallow groundwater or irrigation. While domestic apples are cultivated under a range of growing conditions, wild relatives of agricultural crops may further expand the cultivable range of the species. Crop wild relatives are species closely related to agricultural species, including progenitors that may contribute beneficial traits to crops. Sampling the genetic variation in crop wild relatives may benefit from ecological genetics and GIS theory to reveal genetic structure. The Pacific crabapple is an example of a wild apple relative that may contain genetic variation useful in apple breeding. Species distribution modeling of the Pacific crabapple identifies a narrow climatic window of suitable habitat along the northern Pacific coast, and genetic fingerprinting reveals a highly admixed genetic structure with little evidence of natural or cultural selection. While the moist coastal Pacific Northwest is not necessarily characteristic of many apple-growing regions, the species may have useful adaptations transferable to domestic apples. Genetic resources offer a promising source of raw material for adapting crops to future agricultural environments; their characterization, conservation, and use may offer important contributions to adaptation and use of perennial crops in agro-ecosystems.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Arid Lands Resource Sciences