Mango (Mangifera indica L.) is a traditional, highly esteemed crop in India and Southeast Asia. Over the last 500 years, it has become well established in tropical American locations, including Florida and Hawaii in the United States (Popenoe, 1920). India has been a center of mango cultivation for several thousand years, and named cultivars of recognized superior quality have long been grown there. Knight and Schnell (1994) reviewed the introduction of mangos into Florida and the development of a Florida group of cultivars. Florida mango cultivars are unique, being hybrids between Indian cultivars (primarily monoembryonic) and Southeast Asian cultivars (primarily polyembryonic) with subsequent selection under south Florida conditions.
The mango, like many perennial, cloned fruit tree species, has been considered to be a difficult plant species to improve by breeding as a result of several intrinsic biological factors (Iyer and Dinesh, 1997; Iyer and Schnell, 2009): 1) a high level of heterozygosity and unpredictable outcomes when crossing parents; 2) a long juvenile period; 3) only one seed per fruit; 4) potentially heavy fruit drop with loss of hybrid fruit; 5) polyembryony in many cultivars; and 6) a large area required for proper assessment of progeny. Nonetheless, mango breeding can be successful as a result of its high level of genetic variability and the ease with which selections can be vegetatively propagated. Because the mango's breeding system favors outcrossing (Iyer and Dinesh, 1997), the proximal growing of numerous genotypes from disparate geographic origins led to the production of many new seedlings that arose from cross-pollination in Florida (Knight and Schnell, 1994; Schnell et al., 2006). Thus, Florida selections did not arise from formal breeding programs; early Florida selections were made by growers and enthusiasts, and historical information is often anecdotal. Although most present-day mango cultivars in India are selected on the Indian subcontinent based mainly on fruit quality, many Florida cultivars have come to be grown widely as commercial cultivars based on broad environmental adaptability (Mukherjee, 1997). Schnell et al. (2006) analyzed genetic diversity and interrelationships among 203 unique mango cultivars, two selections of M. griffithii Hook f., and three M. odorata Griff. accessions maintained at the National Germplasm Repository in Miami, FL, and/or at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami, FL, using 25 microsatellite markers, and found Florida cultivars to more closely related to Indian cultivars than to cultivars from Southeast Asia.
The visual appearance of fresh fruits and vegetables is a very important quality determinant made by the consumer. In Florida, mango color is an important factor in consumer choice (Campbell and Campbell, 2002; Litz and Lavi, 1997), and mangos overlaid with red are especially valued both in fruit consumed in Florida and in fruits shipped to northern markets. In the past, the evaluation of mango color has been subjective, based on visual ratings, and large errors are generally associated with such ratings. The use of the colorimeter has been demonstrated by Ayala-Silva et al. (2005) to accurately quantify fruit color and to differentiate among varieties. Ayala-Silva et al. (2005) measured mango color with a Minolta Chroma Meter CR-400 portable tristimulus colorimeter (Minolta, Osaka, Japan) and evaluated fruit chromaticity in the Commission Internationale d’Éclairage (CIE) L*, a*, and b* color space coordinates. The CIE L*a*b* color space is the most widely used method for measuring and ordering object color, e.g., textiles, inks, paints, plastics, and so on as well as fruits and vegetables. (Gonnet, 1993, 1998) This system records color values in a uniform, three-dimensional color space, in which the L* coordinate corresponds to a lightness (light versus dark) coordinate, the a* coordinate corresponds either to red (positive) values or to green (negative) values, and the b* coordinate represents either yellow (positive) values or blue (negative) values. The CIE L*a*b* color space was successfully used to compare fruits from replicated plantings of open-pollinated sibling trees of mango crosses of known maternal parentage and to compare two control clones also planted in replicated plantings (Ayala-Silva et al., 2005). The same maternal half-sib families (MHS) and control clones were also successfully compared for traits assessing quality such as fruit and seed weight, fruit length and width, and anthracnose [Colletotricum gloeosporioides (Penz.) Penz. and Sacc.] resistance.
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