Expanding genetic diversity of the South African litchi germplasm collection to promote plant improvement
The main aim of litchi improvement in South Africa is to extend the production season and, at the same time, to deliver cultivars with improved tree and fruit qualities. In order to progress plant improvement efforts, it is essential to expand the limited genetic base of cultivars currently available in South Africa. Recent collaboration with leading litchi-producing countries has led to the import of 17 cultivars from Australia in 2013 and 13 cultivars from Israel in 2014. The addition of the new cultivars to the breeding programme will substantially increase the available genetic diversity in the local collection. The material is currently maintained in quarantine, after which multiplication and orchard evaluation will commence. A genotype reference database for litchis was recently created at the ARC-ITSC using molecular marker technology. The reference database will serve as a tool in the characterization of litchi cultivars and the establishment of a core collection of cultivars for future breeding work.
Froneman, I.J., Nonyane, D., Severn-Ellis, A., Cronje, R.B. and Sippel, A.D. (2016). Expanding genetic diversity of the South African litchi germplasm collection to promote plant improvement. Acta Hortic. 1127, 365-372
Litchi chinensis Sonn., breeding, evaluation, biotechnology