If you plant a seed from a tasty mango, it does not necessarily give you a tree that produces tasty fruits. That is because of extensive cross pollination in mango. This cross pollination itself is the basis of large genetic variability of mango seen in India. Interestingly, our country is the centre of origin as well as primary centre of genetic diversity in mango. For the development of hybrids, a precise understanding on the varieties with traits of interest is necessary.
To map the genetic diversity is a huge task. But thankfully, there are some easily recognisable varieties such as Moovandan, Neelum, Mulgoa, Alphonso…
There is a list of about forty varieties in MangoDB, the mango database made by the Kerala Agricultural University.
“The idea is to create complete morphology based descriptors for mango varieties and landraces in India. The database is only the beginning” says Dr. Deepu Mathew, the principal investigator of the project under the Bioinformatics programme at KAU, supported by DBT.
“We have tried to cover most important varieties in the south, especially Kerala”, says Dr. S. Simi, Agricultural College, Vellayani, a contributor to the project.
“The problem was to precisely use the complete descriptors for all the varieties. So we focussed initially on forty commercially important varieties”, adds Dr. T. Radha,
The Kerala Agricultural University has collected a germplasm of 160 varieties – a work that started in 1992. The scientists estimate that there could be more than a thousand varieties in India.
The core nucleus of the database is now ready. If citizen scientists among farmers contribute to populating the data for other varieties, the database has potential to grow to be the world’s best database on mangoes.
Visit the mango database now: http://bic.kau.in/mango/index.php. Contribute to making it more comprehensive.
Current Science 114 (10): 2022-2025 (2018)
K P Madhu