, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1653-1667
Date: 09 Jul 2006

Tequila and other Agave spirits from west-central Mexico: current germplasm diversity, conservation and origin

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Abstract

Current germplasm diversity used in the production of Agave spirits in west-central México is in danger of erosion due to an expansion in the cultivation of the clone A. tequilana Weber var. azul, used for the elaboration of the famous drink “Tequila”. In order to define critical areas of in situ conservation and to determine the role of local native and mestizo cultures in the generation and maintenance of diversity, an ethnobotanical exploration was conducted in the center and south of the state of Jalisco. Results situate the nucleus of greatest diversity at present in the south of Jalisco and indicate that this is a result of a continuous process of selection initiated by the indigenous population for the production of food and fermented drinks, which continued into the final years of the 16th century but with a new objective: distillation using the Filipino technology introduced to west-central Mexico through Colima. More than 20 variants were found to be cultivated by the traditional farmers, the majority relating to the A. angustifolia Haw. complex. We discuss the possibilities of in situ germplasm conservation and its legal protection.