Potential for Domestication of Borassus aethiopum Mart.: A Wild Multipurpose Palm Species in Sub-Saharan Africa
Valère Salako1, Ahuéfa Mauricel Kégbé1, Flora Josiane Chadare2, Konoutan Kafoutchoni1, Aubin Amangnide1, Castro Rodrigue Gbèdomon1, Achille Assogbadjo3, Clément Agbangla4, Romain Glèlè Kakaï5
1University of Abomey-Calavi, Lab. of Biomathematics and Forest Estimations, Benin
Borassus aethiopum Mart. is a dioecious palm species native to mainland Africa. It is a multipurpose tree daily used by local communities but is unfortunately threatened by anthropogenic pressures in many parts of Africa. Fruits and young shoots represent the most exploited parts putting the species at risk. Since the domestication of species offers a good alternative for its long-term benefit, the present study aimed at assessing the environmental-induced diversity in morphological traits of fruits and evaluated differences in growth and weight of hypocotyls from one-seeded, two-seeded as well as three-seeded fruits from different provenances in the three climatic regions of Benin. A total of 5,400 fruits were collected from 180 trees in six populations and fruit and tree morphological traits were measured. A randomized complete block design with three replications was used for the experimentation in each climatic region. The results showed that variation in fruit morphological traits was not influenced by climatic regions. Furthermore, the greatest variation (65 - 94%) in fruit morphological traits was located at tree level, highlighting that selection of many fruits and individual trees within a few populations would capture a large variation of fruit traits. Tree diameter at breast height (18.5 - 52 cm), total height (6.4 - 19.6 m) and bole height (4.8 - 17.6 m), fruit length (7.00 - 20.50 cm), dry weight (98 - 2552 g), shape index (0.59 - 2.80), and number of seeds per fruit (1 - 3) were the most discriminative traits of the studied populations. Clustering of the trees resulted in five different morphotypes based on discriminating traits. Morphotypes 1 and 2 showed high performance for fruit and seed production and are consequently recommended for selection and breeding programs. Irrespective of the provenances, the best performance of hypocotyls were observed in the humid region. The study provides important baseline information for domestication and sustainable conservation of B. aethiopum in Benin.
Keywords: Benin, climatic regions, domestication, hypocotyl, morphological traits, provenance
Contact Address: Ahuéfa Mauricel Kégbé, University of Abomey-Calavi, Lab. of Biomathematics and Forest Estimations, Abomey-Calavi, Benin, e-mail: kegbemgmail.com