The possible role of Yunnan, China, in the origin of contemporary citrus species (rutaceae)

Posible Papel de Yunnan, China, en el Origen de las Especies Contemporáneas del GéneroCitrus (Rutaceae)


The primitive center of origin of Citrus species has been a subject of speculation and discussion for some time. Japanese Citrus taxonomist Tanaka concluded that the center of origin was northeastern India and northern Burma. He ascribed a secondary role in the origin and distribution of Citrus species to Yunnan and surrounding areas of China on the basis of his belief that there were no important native species. These conclusions were based on incomplete information that was available over 30 yr ago, but important new evidence from Yunnan challenges Tanaka’s ideas on the origin of Citrus species. This report describes the diversity of indigenous primitive and advanced Citrus species in Yunnan and the interaction of topography and climate with the geographic distribution of these species. Numerous river systems arise in or traverse Yunnan and flow to Burma, Indo-China, and southern and central China, thus providing a natural plant dispersal mechanism. The authors suggest that the substantial portion of the Citrus gene pool represented in the rich diversity of indigenous species reported in recent Chinese surveys and the available natural dispersal mechanism provide strong evidence that Yunnan and nearby areas of China played a critical role in the origin and distribution of modern Citrus species.


El centro de origen de las especies del géneroCitrus ha sido tema de especulación y discusión por mucho tiempo. El taxónomo japonés Tanaka concluyó que el centro de origen se situó en el noreste de la India y el norte de Burma. El atribuyó un papel secundario a Yunnan y áreas circundantes en base a su creencia que no había especies nativas importantes en esa region. Tales conclusiones se basaron en informatión incompleta de hace mas de 30 años; sin embargo, existen evidencias que revierten las ideas de Tanaka acerca del origen del género Citrus. El presente trabajo describe la diversidad de Citrus spp. que existen en Yunnan, tanto primitivas como avanzadas, asícomo la interactión entre la topografía y el clima con la distributión geográfica de esas especies. En Yunnan existen numerosos ríos que fluyen hacia Burma, Indo-China, y centro y sur de China, proporcionando así un mecanismo natural de dispersión vegetal. Los autores del presente trabajo sugieren que la parte primordial del pool genético de las especies del género Citrus está representada en la amplia diversidad de especies nativas encontradas en evaluaciones y recorridos recientes. Lo anterior junto con los mecanismos naturales de dispersión proporcionan firmes evidencias que Yunnan y áreas circundantes en China jugaron un papel determinante en el origen y distributión de las especies modernas de Citrus.

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Correspondence to Frederick G. Gmitter.

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Florida Agricultural Experiment Station Journal Series No. 9563.

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Gmitter, F.G., Hu, X. The possible role of Yunnan, China, in the origin of contemporary citrus species (rutaceae). Econ Bot 44, 267–277 (1990).

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