Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 64, Issue 7, pp 1581–1594 | Cite as

Asparagus macrorrhizus Pedrol, Regalado et López-Encina, an endemic species from Spain in extreme extinction risk, is a valuable genetic resource for asparagus breeding

  • J. J. RegaladoEmail author
  • R. Moreno
  • P. Castro
  • E. Carmona-Martin
  • R. Rodríguez
  • J. Pedrol
  • N. Larrañaga
  • R. Guillén
  • J. Gil
  • C. L. Encina
Research Article


Asparagus maritimus is a species distributed in sandy soils along the Mediterranean coast. It has been reported as salt tolerant and resistant to rust. The wild asparagus species are a very important genetic resources for asparagus breeding because the current commercial cultivars have a narrow genetic base. Until recently, the only population of A. maritimus catalogued in Spain was a small population, which is at high extinction risk, located around the coastal lagoon “Mar Menor” in the region of Murcia. Different studies carried out in the current work support the recent description of this population as a new species named Asparagus macrorrhizus. Plants from three populations of A. maritimus were used to carry out studies of characterization and the results were compared with plants of A. macrorrhizus. The morphological studies showed clear differences between the populations of A. maritimus and A. macrorrhizus. One of the differences found between these populations was at the ploidy level. The plants of A. maritimus were hexaploid (2n = 6x = 60), while the plants of A. macrorrhizus were dodecaploid (2n = 12x = 120). Also, the flavonoid composition showed that A. maritimus contains six different flavonoids while in A. macrorrhizus 90 % of the flavonoid content corresponds to only one flavonoid (Nicotiflorin) followed by minor quantities of other two. Another difference between these populations was supported by the principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) using data from 4 EST-SSRs markers amplified in plants of A. maritimus and A. macrorrhizus, and clearly separates the two species. The differences found in this work highlight the importance of A. macrorrhizus as a possible genetic resource for asparagus breeding. The distribution of A. macrorrhizus is limited to the area surrounding the “Mar Menor” lagoon. The prospections carried out in the last years indicated the high risk of extinction of this species due to the urbanization of this natural habitat. Therefore, we have included A. macrorrhizus in our germplasm bank in vivo and in vitro as well as in the breeding programs.


Asparagus breeding Endangered species Flavonoid Genetic resources Morphological characterization Ploidy level Principal coordinates analysis 



Authors would like to thank the kindness and help of the environmental agents and biologists from the Directorate General for the Environment of the Region of Murcia (Spain). We are also grateful to Mr. Ruben Vives Lopez, naturalist of “Ecologistas en Acción” of Murcia, for providing valuable information, plant material and technical support during the plant prospecting and data recovery of Asparagus macrorrhizus in the surrounding areas of “Mar Menor” coastal lagoon. This study was funded by “Junta de Andalucía” (Project of Excellence AGR3648).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is not any ‘Conflict of Interest’ in this paper.


  1. Alam J, Ali I (2010) Contribution to the red list of the plants of Pakistan. Pak J Bot 42:2967–2971Google Scholar
  2. Alberti P, Casali PE, Barbaglio E, Toppino L, Mennella G, Falavigna A (2004) Interspecific hybridization for Asparagus breeding. In: Proceedings of the XLVIII Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics–SIFV-SIGA Joint Meeting. Lecce, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  3. Bozzini A (1959) Revisione cito-sistematica del genere Asparagus I. Le especie di Asparagus della Flora Italiana e chiave per la loro determinazione. Caryologia 12:199–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brettin TS, Sink C (1992) Allozyme variation and genetics in asparagus. J Hered 83:383–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burrows SM, Burrows JE (2008) Three new species of Asparagus (Asparagaceae) from South Africa, with notes on other taxa. Bothalia 38:23–29Google Scholar
  6. Carmona-Martin E, Regalado JJ, Padilla IMG, Westendorp N, Encina CL (2014) A new and efficient micropropagation method and its breeding applications in Asparagus genera. Plant Cell Tissue Organ Cult 119:479–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Castro P, Gil J, Cabrera A, Moreno R (2013) Assessment of genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationship in Asparagus species related to Asparagus officinalis. Genet Resour Crop Evol 60:1275–1288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clifford HT, Conran JG (1987) 2. Asparagus, 3. Protasparagus, 4. Myrsiphyllum. In: George AS (ed) Flora of Australia. Australian Government Publishing Service, Camberra, pp 159–164Google Scholar
  9. Dahlgren RMT, Clifford HT, Yeo PF (1985) The families of the monocotyledons. Springer, HeidelbergCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Demissew S (2008) Four new species of Asparagus (Asparagaceae) from the Flora Zambesiaca area. Kew Bull 63:269–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ellison JH (1986) Asparagus breeding. In: Bassett MJ (ed) Breeding vegetable crops (). AVI Publishing Co., Westport (Ireland), pp 521–569Google Scholar
  12. Falavigna A, Alberti P, Casali PE, Toppino L, Huaisong W, Mennella G (2008) Interspecific hybridization for Asparagus breeding in Italy. Acta Hortic 776:291–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fuentes-Alventosa JM, Rodríguez G, Cermeño P, Guillén R, Jiménez A, Fernández-Bolaños J, Rodríguez-Arcos R (2007) Identification of flavonoid diglycosides in several genotypes of asparagus from the Huétor-Tájar population variety. J Agric Food Chem 55:10028–10035CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Fuentes-Alventosa JM, Jaramillo S, Rodríguez-Gutiérrez G, Cermeño P, Espejo JA, Jiménez-Araujo A, Guillén-Bejarano R, Fernández-Bolaños J, Rodríguez-Arcos R (2008) Flavonoid profile of green asparagus genotypes. J Agric Food Chem 56:6977–6984CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Fukuda T, Ashizawa H, Suzuki R et al (2005) Molecular phylogeny of the genus Asparagus (Asparagaceae) inferred from plastic petB intron and petD-rpoA intergenic spacer sequences. Plant Species Biol 20:121–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geoffriau E, Denoue D, Rameau C (1992) Assessment of genetic variation among asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) population and cultivars: agro-morphological and isoenzymatic data. Euphytica 61:169–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamdi SMM, Assadi M (2009) Asparagus khorasanensis (Asparagaceae), a new species from Iran. Feddes Repert 120:419–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hamdi SMM, Assadi M (2012) A new species of Asparagus L. (Asparagaceae) from Iran. Iran J Bot 19:44–46Google Scholar
  19. Ito T, Ochiai T, Fukuda T, Ashizawa H, Kanno A, Kameya T, Sonoda T (2008) Potential of interspecific hybrids in Asparagacea. Acta Hortic 776:279–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kanno A, Yokoyama J (2011) C. Asparagus. In: Kole C (ed) Wild Crop Relatives: Genomic and Breeding Resources, Vegetables. Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg, pp 23–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kay QON, Davies EW, Rich TCG (2001) Taxonomy of the western European endemic Asparagus prostratus (A. officinalis subsp. prostratus) (Asparagaceae). Bot J Linn Soc 137:127–137Google Scholar
  22. Khandka DK, Nejidat A, Golan-Goldhirsh A (1996) Polymorphism and DNA markers for asparagus cultivars identified by random amplified polymorphic DNA. Euphytica 87:39–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kubota S, Konno I, Kanno A (2012) Molecular phylogeny of the genus Asparagus (Asparagaceae) explains interspecific crossability between the garden asparagus (A. officinalis) and other Asparagus species. Theor Appl Genet 124:345–354CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Kunitake H, Nakashima T, Mori K, Tanaka M, Saito A, Mii M (1996) Production of interspecific somatic hybrid plants between Asparagus officinalis and A. macowanii through electrofusion. Plant Sci 116:213–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lallemand J, Briand F, Breuils F, Denoue D, Rameau C (1994) Identification of asparagus varieties by isozyme patterns. Euphytica 79:1–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lee YO, Kanno A, Kameya T (1997) Phylogenetic relationships in the genus Asparagus based on the restriction enzyme analysis of the chloroplast DNA. Breed Sci 47:375–378Google Scholar
  27. Moreno R, Espejo JA, Cabrera A, Millan T, Gil J (2006) Ploidic and molecular analysis of ‘Morado de Huetor’ asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) population; a Spanish tetraploid landrace. Genet Resour Crop Evol 53:729–736CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Moreno R, Espejo JA, Cabrera A, Gil J (2008) Origin of tetraploid cultivated asparagus landraces inferred from nuclear ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacers polymorphisms. Ann Appl Biol 153:233–241Google Scholar
  29. Peakall R, Smouse PE (2006) GENALEX 6: genetic analysis in Excel. Population genetic software for teaching and research. Mol Ecol Notes 6:288–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pedrol J, Regalado JJ, López-Encina C (2013) Asparagus L.: Asparagus macrorrhizus (Pedrol, Regalado & López-Encina), sp. nov., In: Rico E, Crespo MB, Quintanar A, Herrero A, Aedo C (eds) Flora Ibérica, vol XX. Real Jardín Botánico, CSIC, Madrid, pp 117–119Google Scholar
  31. Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN). Version 2015.4. Accessed 10 Mar 2016
  32. Regalado JJ, Carmona-Martín E, Castro P, Moreno R, Gil J, Encina CL (2015) Micropropagation of wild species of the genus Asparagus L. and their interspecific hybrids with cultivated A. officinalis L., and verification of genetic stability using EST-SSRs. Plant Cell Tissue Organ Cult 121:501–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sánchez-Gómez P, Carrión MA, Hernández A, Guerra J (2002) Libro Rojo de la Flora Silvestre Protegida de la Región de Murcia. Consejería de Agricultura, Agua y Medio Ambiente. Murcia, Dirección General del Medio NaturalGoogle Scholar
  34. Sánchez-Gómez P, Vera-Pérez JB, Jiménez-Martínez JF, Aedo C, Pedrol J (2007) La esparraguera marina, especie en peligro crítico de extinción en la península ibérica. Conserv Veg 11:13–14Google Scholar
  35. Sánchez-Gómez P, Vera-Pérez JB, Jiménez Martínez JF (2008) Libro Rojo de la Flora Silvestre Protegida de la Región de Murcia. Consejería de Agricultura, Agua y Medio Ambiente. Murcia, Dirección General del Medio NaturalGoogle Scholar
  36. Štajner N, Bohanec B, Javornik B (2002) Genetic variability of economically important Asparagus species as revealed by genome size analysis and rDNA ITS polymorphisms. Plant Sci 162:931–937CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Valdes BC (1980) Asparagus L. In: Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Barnes NA et al (eds) Flora Europaea, vol 5. Cambridge Univ Press, Cambridge, pp 71–73Google Scholar
  38. Venezia A, Soressi P, Falavigna A (1993) Aspects related to utilization of wild asparagus species in Italy. Agric Ric 141:41–48Google Scholar
  39. Xinqi C, Tamanian KG (2000) Asparagus. In: Wu ZY, Raven PH (eds) Flora of China, 24 edn. Science Press, Beijing, pp 208–215Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. Regalado
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Moreno
    • 2
  • P. Castro
    • 2
  • E. Carmona-Martin
    • 1
  • R. Rodríguez
    • 3
  • J. Pedrol
    • 4
  • N. Larrañaga
    • 5
  • R. Guillén
    • 3
  • J. Gil
    • 2
  • C. L. Encina
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Cultivo de Tejidos y BiotecnologíaInstituto de Horticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea “La Mayora”, (CSIC-UMA)Algarrobo-CostaSpain
  2. 2.Dpto. Genética (ETSIAM)Universidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain
  3. 3.Departamento de Biotecnología de AlimentosInstituto de la Grasa (CSIC)SevilleSpain
  4. 4.Dept. Hortofruticultura, Botánica y Jardinería, Escola Técnica Superior d’Enginyeria AgrariaUniversitat de LleidaLleidaSpain
  5. 5.Departamento de Fruticultura SubtropicalInstituto de Horticultura Subtropical y Mediterránea “La Mayora”, (CSIC-UMA)Algarrobo-CostaSpain

Personalised recommendations