Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 551–571 | Cite as

Biodiversity and preservation of vanilla: present state of knowledge

  • Séverine Bory
  • Michel Grisoni
  • Marie-France Duval
  • Pascale BesseEmail author
Research Article


The genus Vanilla belongs to the Orchidaceae family and Vanilla planifolia, probably endemic from tropical forests in Eastern Mexico, is the main source for commercial vanilla. There has recently been an important number of publications covering Vanilla taxonomy, particularly using molecular genetics, but the taxonomy of the genus is still unclear and numerous synonyms remain. Recent studies showed that inter-specific hybridization and perhaps even polyploidization played an important role in the evolution of the genus. There has also been an important increase in the knowledge of the genetic diversity and reproductive biology of V. planifolia in natural conditions, showing that mating system diversity exists in Vanilla and that this genus could be a good model to study the role of fragrance in orchid evolution. Recent studies on the genetic consequences of V. planifolia domestication are also presented and raise major scientific questions regarding the origin of phenotypic diversity in a vegetatively propagated crop. Finally, all these studies have demonstrated the urgent need for preservation of the genetic resources of V. planifolia (primary and secondary gene pools, and cultivated resources) and current conservation efforts are presented.


Conservation Genetic diversity Molecular genetics Orchid taxonomy Plant reproduction Vanilla planifolia 


  1. Ackerman JD (1986) Mechanisms and evolution of food-deceptive pollination systems in orchids. Lindleyana 1(2):108–113Google Scholar
  2. Arditti J, Ghani AKA (2000) Numerical and physical properties of orchid seeds and their biological implications. New Phytol 145:367–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bénézet H, Picard E, Côme B et al. (2000) Les virus du vanillier à la Réunion : un frein au développement de la culture sous ombrière. Phytoma la défense des végétaux 526:40–42Google Scholar
  4. Bernard F (2005) Vanilla in Indonesia. In: First International Congress, Princeton, NJ, USA, 11–12 Nov 2003Google Scholar
  5. Besse P, Da Silva D, Bory S et al. (2004) RAPD genetic diversity in cultivated vanilla: Vanilla planifolia, and relationships with V. tahitensis and V. pompona. Plant Sci 167:379–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bory S (2004) Diversité des vanilliers cultivés—Utilisation de marqueurs microsatellites et AFLP. Mémoire de DEA, Université de Montpellier II—ENSAMGoogle Scholar
  7. Bouriquet G (1954) Le vanillier et la vanille dans le monde. Encyclopédie Biologique XLVI. Lechevalier, Paris VIGoogle Scholar
  8. Bretó MP, Ruiz C, Pina JA et al. (2001) The diversification of Citrus clementina Hort. ex Tan., a vegetatively propagated crop species. Mol Phylogenet Evol 21(2):285–293PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bruman H (1948) The culture history of Mexican Vanilla. Hispanic Am Historical Rev 28(3):360–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cameron KM (1996) Phylogenetic relationships of the vanilloid orchids: an integration of molecular, with anatomical and morphological data. Doctoral Dissertation, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NCGoogle Scholar
  11. Cameron KM (1999) Biogeography of Vanilloideae (Orchidaceae). In: XVI International Botanical Congress, Abstracts. St Louis, Missouri, pp. 25–26Google Scholar
  12. Cameron KM (2000) Gondwanan biogeography of Vanilloideae (Orchidaceae). In: Southern Connections Congress, Programmes and Abstracts, p. 749, Lincoln, New ZealandGoogle Scholar
  13. Cameron KM (2003) Vanilloideae. In: Pridgeon AM, Cribb PJ, Chase MW, Rasmussen FN (eds) Genera Orchidacearum: Orchidoideae, Oxford University Press, USAGoogle Scholar
  14. Cameron KM (2004) Utility of plastid psaB gene sequences for investigating intrafamilial relationships within Orchidaceae. Mol Phylogenet Evol 31(3):1157–1180PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cameron KM (2005a) DNA Barcoding as a method for vanilla species identification. In: Vanilla 2005 Mexico. The International Symposium on the Vanilla Business, Veracruz, Mexico, 15–16 Nov 2005Google Scholar
  16. Cameron KM (2005b) Recent Advances in the Systematic Biology of Vanilla and Related Orchids (Orchidaceae: subfamily Vanilloideae). In: First International Congress, Princeton, NJ, USA, 11–12 Nov 2003Google Scholar
  17. Cameron KM, Chase MW (1998) Seed morphology of vanilloid orchids (Vanilloideae: Orchidaceae). Lindleyana 13(3):148–169Google Scholar
  18. Cameron KM, Chase MW (1999) Phylogenetic relationships of Pogoniiae (Vanilloideae, Orchidaceae): an herbaceous example of the eastern north America-eastern Asia phylogeographic disjunction. J Plant Res 112:317–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cameron KM, Chase MW, Whitten WM et al. (1999) A phylogenetic analysis of the Orchidaceae: evidence from rbcL nucleotide sequences. Am J Bot 86(2):208–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Cameron KM, Dickison WC (1998) Foliar architecture of vanilloid orchids: next term insights into the evolution of reticulate leaf venation in monocotyledons. Bot J Linn Soc 128(1):45–70Google Scholar
  21. Cameron KM, Molina MC (2006) Photosystem II gene sequences of psbB and psbC clarify the phylogenetic position of Vanilla (Vanilloideae, Orchidaceae). Cladistics 22(3):239–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Castillo Martinez R, Engleman EM (1993) Caracterizacion de dos tipos de Vanilla planifolia. Acta Bot Mex 25:49–59Google Scholar
  23. Chardard R (1963) Contribution à l’étude cyto-taxinomique des orchidées. Rev Cyt et Biol Vég 26(1):1–58Google Scholar
  24. Childers NF, Cibes HR (1948) Vanilla culture in Puerto Rico. Circular No 28, Federal Experiment Station in Puerto Rico of the United States Department of Agriculture, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  25. Childers NF, Cibes HR, Hernández-Medina E (1959) Vanilla—the orchid of commerce. In: Withner CL (ed) The orchids. A Scientific Survey, Ronald Press Co., New YorkGoogle Scholar
  26. Cibrian Jaramillo A (1999) Variacion genética de Vanilla planifolia en México. Ph.D. dissertationGoogle Scholar
  27. Colunga-GarciaMarin P, Zizumbo-Villareal D (2004) Domestication of plants in maya lowlands. Econ Bot 58:101–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Correll DS (1953) Vanilla, botany, history, cultivation and economic importance. Econ Bot 7(4):291–358Google Scholar
  29. Delassus M (1960) La lutte contre la fusariose du vanillier par les méthodes génétiques. L’Agronomie Tropicale 15:245–246Google Scholar
  30. Dequaire J (1976) L’amélioration du vanillier à Madagascar. Journal d’Agriculture Tropicale et de Botanique Appliquée 23(7–12):140–158Google Scholar
  31. Diaz EC (1989) Manual para el cultivo de vainilla en la region de Papantla Veracruz Mexico. Papantla, Vercruz, MexicoGoogle Scholar
  32. Dressler RL (1993) Phylogeny and classification of the orchid family. Dioscorides Press, Portland, ORGoogle Scholar
  33. Dressler RL, Dodson C (1960) Classification and phylogeny of the Orchidaceae. Ann Mo Bot Gard 47:25–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Duval M-F, Bory S, Andrzejewski S et al. (2006) Diversité génétique des vanilliers dans leurs zones de dispersion secondaire. Les Actes du BRG 6:181–196Google Scholar
  35. Ecott T (2004) Mexican money. In: Vanilla: Travels in search of the Luscious Substance. Penguin books, London (GB)Google Scholar
  36. Elias M, Penet L, Vindry P et al. (2001) Unmanaged sexual reproduction and the dynamics of genetic diversity of a vegetatively propagated crop plant, cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), in a traditional farming system. Mol Ecol 10:1895–1907PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Fay MF, Krauss SL (2003) Orchid conservation genetics in the molecular age. In: Dixon KW, Kell SP, Barrett RL, Cribb PJ (eds) Orchid conservation. Natural History Publications, BorneoGoogle Scholar
  38. FOFIFA (1990) Le vanillier. Bilan de la Recherche Agricole à Madagascar, pp 112–119Google Scholar
  39. Goldman DH, Freudenstein JV, Kores PJ et al. (2001) Phylogenetics of Arethuseae (Orchidaceae) based on plastid matK and rbcL sequences. Syst Bot 26(3):670–695Google Scholar
  40. Govaerts R, Campacci MA, Holland Baptista D et al. (2006) World Checklist of Orchidaceae. Accessed 29 May 2006Google Scholar
  41. Grisoni M, Besse P, Bory S et al. (2006) Towards an international plant collection to maintain and characterize the endangered genetic resources of vanilla. In: International Horticultural Conference (IHC2006), Seoul, Korea, 13–19 Aug 2006Google Scholar
  42. Grisoni M, Côme B, Nany F (1997) Projet de relance de la vanilliculture dans la région du SAVA. Compte-Rendu de Mission à Madagascar, La RéunionGoogle Scholar
  43. Gustafsson S (2000) Patterns of genetic variation in Gymnadenia conopsea, the fragrant orchid. Mol Ecol 9:1863–1872PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Heim P (1954) Le noyau dans le genre Vanilla. In: Lechevalier P (ed) Le vanillier et la vanille dans le monde, ParisGoogle Scholar
  45. Hoffmann KM (1929) Zytologische Studien der Orchidaceen (Vorläufige Mitteilung.). Ber Deut Bot Gesell 47:321–326Google Scholar
  46. Hoffmann KM (1930) Beiträge zur Cytologie des Orchidaceen. Planta 10:523–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hurel-Py G (1938) Etude des noyaux végétatifs de Vanilla planifolia. Revue de Cytologie et de Cytophysiologie Végétales 3:129–133Google Scholar
  48. Imazio S, Labra M, Grassi F et al. (2002) Molecular tools for clone identification: the case of the grapevine cultivar ‘Traminer’. Plant Breed 121(6):531–535CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Kalisz S, Purugganan MD (2004) Epialleles via DNA methylation: consequences for plant evolution. Trends Ecol Evol 19(6):309–314PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kocyan A, Qiu Y-L, Endress PK et al. (2004) A phylogenetic analysis of Apostasioideae (Orchidaceae) based on ITS, trnL-F and matK sequences. Plant Syst Evol 247(3–4):203–213Google Scholar
  51. Kores PJ, Molvray M, Weston PH et al. (2001) A phylogenetic analysis of Diurideae (Orchidaceae) based on plastid DNA sequence data. Am J Bot 88(10):1903–1914CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Leclerc-Le Quillec F, Rivière C, Lagorce A (2001) Spread of Cymbidium Mosaïc Potexvirus and potyviruses in vanilla plants grown in shade houses in Reunion Island. Fruits 56(4):249–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Lecomte H (1901) Le vanillier: sa culture, préparation et commerce de la vanille. Naud, ParisGoogle Scholar
  54. Lopez PR (1900) La vainilla, su cultivo y beneficio. Litografia o imprenta “El Monograma”, Mexico, DFGoogle Scholar
  55. Lubinsky P (2003) Conservation of wild Vanilla. In: First International Congress on the Future of the Vanilla Business. Princeton, NJ, USA, 11–12 Nov 2003Google Scholar
  56. Lubinsky P (2004) Vanilla diversity in Mexico. In: Bakto Flavors, Rutgers University (eds) Vanilla 2004 Europe, Second International Congress, Cannes, France, 30 Sept–01 Oct 2004Google Scholar
  57. Lubinsky P, Van Dam M, Van Dam A (2006) Pollination of vanilla and evolution in Orchidaceae. Orchids 75(12):926–929Google Scholar
  58. Lucas R (1990) La Réunion, île de Vanille. Océan Editions, St André, La RéunionGoogle Scholar
  59. Macedo Reis CA (2000) Biologia reprodutiva e propagacao vegetativa de Vanilla chamissonis Klotzsch: subsidios para manejo sustentado. Escola Superior de Agric Luiz de Queiroz, Piracicaba, Sao Paulo, BrasilGoogle Scholar
  60. Mager J, Bartolomei MS (2005) Strategies for dissecting epigenetic mechanisms in the mouse. Nat Genet 37(11):1194–1200PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Martin FW (1963) Chromosome number and behavior in a Vanilla hybrid and several Vanilla species. Bull Torrey Bot Club 90:416–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Micheneau C (2002) Relations phylogénétiques des Neottieae (Orchidaceae) et étude de la variabilité génétique de Cephalanthera longifolia à l’aide de marqueurs moléculaires (séquençage et microsatellites chloroplastiques). Mémoire de DEA, Université Paul Sabatier, ToulouseGoogle Scholar
  63. Micheneau C, Fournel J, Pailler T (2006) Bird Pollination in an Angraecoid Orchid on Reunion Island (Mascarene Archipelago, Indian Ocean). Ann Bot 97:965–974PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Minoo D, Nirmal Babu K, Peter KV (2006a) Conservation of Vanilla species, in vitro. Sci Horti 110(2):175–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Minoo D, Nirmal Babu K, Ravindran PN et al. (2006b) Interspecific hybridization in vanilla and molecular characterization of hybrids and selfed progenies using RAPD and AFLP markers. Sci Horti 108(4):414–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Nair RR, Ravindran PN (1994) Somatic association of chromosomes and other mitotic abnormalities in Vanilla planifolia (Andrews). Caryologia 47(1):65–73Google Scholar
  67. Nielsen RL (2000) Natural hybridization between Vanilla claviculata (W.Wright) Sw. and V. barbellata Rchb.f. (Orchidaceae): genetic, morphological, and pollination experimental data. Bot J Linn Soc 133(3):285–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Nielsen RL, Siegismund HR (1999) Interspecific differentiation and hybridization in Vanilla species (Orchidaceae). Heredity 83(5):560–567PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Portères R (1951a) Le problème des migrations végétales transpacifiques d’Asie en Amérique à l’Epoque Tertiaire et la distribution des espèces de Vanilliers. Rev Intern Bot Appl Agric Trop:290–294Google Scholar
  70. Portères R (1951b) Observations sur le Vanillier de Tahiti. Bulletin de la Société Botanique de France 98(4–6):126–127Google Scholar
  71. Portères R (1953) Le potentiel de variation clonale de Vanilla tahitensis J.W. Moore. L’Agronomie Tropicale 8(6):639–640Google Scholar
  72. Portères R (1954) Le genre Vanilla et ses espèces. In: Lechevalier P (ed) Le vanillier et la vanille dans le monde. ParisGoogle Scholar
  73. Purseglove JW, Brown EG, Green CL et al (1981) Chapter 11: Vanilla. In: Longman (ed) Spices: Tropical Agricultural Series. LondonGoogle Scholar
  74. Ranadive AS (2005) Vanilla cultivation. In: First International Congress, Princeton, NJ, USA, 11–12 Nov 2003Google Scholar
  75. Reyna-López GE, Simpson J, Ruiz-Herrera J (1997) Differences in DNA methylation pattern are detectable during the dimorphic transition of fungi by amplification of restriction polymorphisms. Mol Gen Genet 253:703–710PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Ridley HN (1912) Chapter II: Vanilla. In: The MacMillan Co. (ed) Spices, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  77. Rongier A (2006) Des vanilliers cherbourgeois. L’orchidophile n°171 37(4):257–266Google Scholar
  78. Scarcelli N, Tostain S, Vigouroux Y et al. (2006) Farmers’ use of wild relative and sexual reproduction in a vegetatively propagated crop. The case of yam in Benin. Mol Ecol 15:2421–2431PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Schlüter PM (2002) RAPD variation in Vanilla planifolia Jackson (Orchidaceae) and assessment of the putative hybrid Vanilla tahitensis Moore. MBiochem Thesis, University of OxfordGoogle Scholar
  80. Soliva M, Gautschi B, Salzmann C et al. (2000) Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in the orchid Ophrys araneola (Orchidaceae) and a test of cross-species amplification. Mol Ecol 9(12):2178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Soto Arenas MA (1999a) Conservation of the genetic resources of Vanilla. PhD dissertation (abstract), UNAM UniversityGoogle Scholar
  82. Soto Arenas MA (1999b) Filogeografia y recursos genéticos de las vainillas de México. Cited 31 Mar 1999Google Scholar
  83. Soto Arenas MA (2003) Vanilla. In: Pridgeon AM, Cribb PJ, Chase MW, Rasmussen FN (eds) Genera orchidacearum: Orchidoideae, Oxford University Press, USAGoogle Scholar
  84. Soto Arenas MA (2006a) La vainilla: retos y perspectivas de su cultivo. Biodiversitas 66:2–9Google Scholar
  85. Soto Arenas MA (2006b) Vainilla: los retos de un cultivo basado en una especie amenazada con una historia de vida compleja. In: Consejo Veracruzano de la Vainilla (ed) Congreso Internacional de Productores de Vainilla, Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico, 26–28 May 2006Google Scholar
  86. Stehlé H (1952) Le vanillier et sa culture. Fruits 7(2):50–56, 99–112, 253–260Google Scholar
  87. Stern WL, Judd WS (1999) Comparative vegetative anatomy and systematics of Vanilla (Orchidaceae). Bot J Linn Soc 131(4):353–382Google Scholar
  88. The International Plant Names Index (2004) Published on the Internet Accessed 09 Dec 2004Google Scholar
  89. Tonier JP (1951) Note technique annexée au rapport annuel 1951 du laboratoire d’étude sur le vanillier. MadagascarGoogle Scholar
  90. Torregrossa JP (1988) La pollinisation du vanillier. Bulletin Agronomique des Antilles et de la Guyane 8:39–41Google Scholar
  91. Weiss EA (2002) Chapter 7: Orchidaceae. In: Spice Crops, CAB International, CABI publishing, Wallington, UKGoogle Scholar
  92. Wong M (2005) Germplasm collection of Vanilla tahitensis in French Polynesia. In: Vanilla 2005 Mexico, The International Symposium on the Vanilla Business, Veracruz, Mexico, 15–16 Nov 2005Google Scholar
  93. Xiong LZ, Xu CG, Maroof MAS et al. (1999) Patterns of cytosine methylation in an elite rice hybrid and its parental lines, detected by a methylation-sensitive amplification polymorphism technique. Mol Gen Genet 261:439–446PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Séverine Bory
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michel Grisoni
    • 1
  • Marie-France Duval
    • 3
  • Pascale Besse
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Pôle de Protection des PlantesCIRAD, UMR PVBMT Cirad – Université de la RéunionSaint-Pierre, La ReunionFrance
  2. 2.Université de La Réunion, UMR PVBMT Cirad – Université de la RéunionSaint Denis Messag Cedex 9, La ReunionFrance
  3. 3.CIRAD, UPR Multiplication VégétativeMontpellier Cedex 5France

Personalised recommendations