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Biosystematics and agronomic potential of some weedy and cultivated amaranths

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Summary

Three weedy amaranths (Amarantkus hybridus, A. retroflexus and A. powellii) from nine California sites, three domesticated species (A. caudatus, A. hypochondriacus and A. cruentus) from the USDA plant inventory as well as other sources and a naturally-occurring crop-weed hybrid were studied for numerical taxonomy using morphological and allozyme variation data. The crop and weedy species groups were easily separated and the hybrid populations were found to be intermediate. Surprisingly, very little intraspecific variation was present. Crop, weed and hybrid amaranths were also compared for their yielding ability, harvest index, seed efficiency of grain production and protein, popping quality and other agronomic traits. Although field plot yields were similar among the three groups of species (700 Kg/ha seed without fertilizer treatment and water, ranging to 3000 Kg/ha with fertilizer applications of 170 Kg N/ha, and abundant water), the harvest index of the weedy group was much higher (25–40%) than the domesticated species (10–15%). The allocation of biomass to seed production is positively correlated with seed yield in the domesticated but not in the weedy types, whereas the percentages of biomass as stem material and as seeds are negatively correlated. Several weedy and crop characteristics together should provide the basis of new improved cultivars through genetic recombination and selection.

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Communicated by J. MacKey

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Hauptli, H., Jain, S.K. Biosystematics and agronomic potential of some weedy and cultivated amaranths. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 52, 177–185 (1978). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00282575

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Key words

  • Amaranths
  • Biosystematics
  • Agronomic Potential