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Centers of Fruits Origin and N. I. Vavilov

Centers of Origin or Centers of Diversity
The term ‘centre of origin’ and ‘centre of diversity’ are often used interchangeably. The centre of diversity refers to and geographic area where the plant species exhibits highest degree of variation whereas the centre of origin of plant species is and area where species appeared first. In centre of diversity height number of cultivated plant species and their wild relative exist. The primary consideration of identifying a center of origin is the presence of wild relatives of the species. Thus the centre of origin corresponds to centre of diversity where species exhibit largest degree of variation. Darwin believed about the existence of geographic centers of origin of biological species in ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859. Based on Darwin’s belief the concept of centers of origin or diversity arose in connection to get breeding material for selection and improvement of cultivated plants. A. de Candolle published his work on geographic regions of origin of the principal cultivated plants however Candolle’s geographic region comprised large territories or entire continents. In 1926, N.I.Vavilov published his famous work ‘The Centers of Origin of the Cultivated Plants’ explaining about the 8 centers of origin. There may be two centers of origin of a plant species. While modern tools like molecular biology and DNA maker are in practice in designation and evolution of centers of origin and diversity, Vavilov’s findings are still useful in the study of fruits origin and their domestication as well as introduction. The study of centers of origin and diversity is useful in fruit breeding because these centers serve as genes reserves for disease, pest resistance and fruit quality. Vavilov postulated in his law of Homologous series that characters present in one species also present in other related species. The his famous work ‘The centers of origin of cultivated plants’ and Vavilov suggested that crop plants evolved from wild species in the areas where diversity is present in the species. The areas where species exhibit great diversity and originated is called primary centre of origin of those cultivated plant species whereas the area where although species are not originated but considerable diversity is existing is considered secondary center of origin. Vavilov purposed following eight centers of origin of cultivated plants:
1.The China Center of Origin
The center consists the mountainous regions of central & western China as well a neighboring low lands. This is primary centre of origin for Pear, Peaches, Apricots, Plum and Orange, Litchi, Cherry, Walnut, Kiwifruit [Actinidia deliciosa (Achev.) C.F.Liang et A.R.Ferguson] and Chinese apple.
2.Hindustan Center of Origin
The center comprises main central India (excluding North West India, Punjab and Pukhtunkhawa province of Pakistan), Burma, Assam, Malaya archipelago, Java, Borneo, Sumatra and Philippines. It is primary center of origin for Mango (Mangifera indica L.), Orange (Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.), Sour limes (Citrus aurantifolia (L.) Swingle), Coconut, Banana, citron (C. medica L.), Tangerin, Tamarind (Tamrindus indica L.), Mangosteen, Pumelo, Wood apple (Feronia elephantum Correa), Bael (Aegle marmelos Correa), Karonda (Carissa carandas L.) and Aonla (Phyllanthus emblica L. Syn. Emblica officinalis Gaertn).
3.The Central Asia Centre of Origin
This center  is also known as Afghanistan Centre of  Origin and includes North-West India, Punjab, Kashmir, North-West Frontier Provinces (Pukhtunkhawa province of Pakistan), Afghanistan, Russia Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan and Tian-Shan (a mountain range in central Asia).It is primary center of origin for Grape, Apple, Almond, Pear, Apricot and Pistachio Nut.

4.The Asia Minor Centre of Origin
The center is also known as Near East or Persian Centre of Origin. The centre comprises the interior of Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey), the whole of Transcaucasia (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), Iran and Turkmenistan. It is Primary center of origin for Fig, Pomegranate, Grape, Almond, Chestnut, Pistachio Nut, Apple, Pyrus spp. and Prunus spp. as well as secondary center of origin for Apricot, Cherry and Ouince.
5.The Mediterranean Center of origin
 It includes borders of the Mediterranean Sea. It is native place of Olive (Olea europaca L.).

6.The Abyssinian center of origin
        It includes Ethiopia (Abyssinia) and hill country of Eritrea (African country) and part of Somalia. The center is place of origin for many crops including vegetables but none fruit crop is reported to be native of this centre and according to Vavilov (1992) Abyssinia knew practically nothing about growing fruits until the European arrived. It is primary center of origin of coffee.
7.The Central America Centre of Origin
 It is also known as Mexican Center of Origin which comprises South Mexico and Central America. The center is reported to be Primary centre of origin for Papaya (Carica papaya L.), Guava (Psidium guajava L.), Avacado, Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.), Cacao, Custard Apple (Annona reticulata L.), Cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill) and Sapota (Sapota achras Mill).

8.The South America Centre of Origin
The centre comprises high mountainous regions of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Paraguay and parts of Chile. It is primary centre of origin of Pineapple (Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.), guava (Psidium guajava L.), Cherimoya (Annona cherimola Mill), Cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale L.) and Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis Sims.).
Nikholai I. Vavilov
Nikholai I. Vavilov (25 Nov., 1887-26 Jan., 1943) was Russian
botanist, plant breeder, geneticist, geographer and science organizer inspired by his own vision of ending global hunger. He joined the Agricultural Academy at Petrovsko-Razumovskoe, studied at Cambridge University under Sir Rowland Biffen and worked with William Bateson a pioneer geneticist and founder director of John Inns Horticultural Institution at Merton in South London. Impressed with Vavilov genius, Lenin provided him full freedom to work for science. In his bright career, Vavilov was director, Institute of Applied Botany, member USSR Academy of sciences, director All Union Institute of Plant Breeding and  Institute of Genetics, Vice President & President Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences and President All Union Geographical society. Vavilov uncompromised and opposed the falsification of genetic science propagated by Trofim Lysenko and his followers during Stalin rule who came into power after Lenin which led to his arrest in 1940. Vavilov awarded death sentence after his arrest but death sentence was commuted to a 20 years prison term in 1942. Vavilov an eminent scientist and world authority on famine and hunger cure died of starvation in a prison camp on the Volga in 1943. The Institute of Plant Industries, Leningrad was named after N.I. Vavilov in 1967 as Vavilov Institute of Plant industry.

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