America's red gold: multiple lineages of cultivated cochineal in Mexico
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CitationCampana, Michael G, Nelly M Robles García, and Noreen Tuross. 2015. “America's red gold: multiple lineages of cultivated cochineal in Mexico.” Ecology and Evolution 5 (3): 607-617. doi:10.1002/ece3.1398. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1398.
AbstractCultivated cochineal (Dactylopius coccus) produces carminic acid, a valuable red dye used to color textiles, cosmetics, and food. Extant native D. coccus is largely restricted to two populations in the Mexican and the Andean highlands, although the insect's ultimate center of domestication remains unclear. Moreover, due to Mexican D. coccus cultivation's near demise during the 19th century, the genetic diversity of current cochineal stock is unknown. Through genomic sequencing, we identified two divergent D. coccus populations in highland Mexico: one unique to Mexico and another that was more closely related to extant Andean cochineal. Relic diversity is preserved in the crops of small-scale Mexican cochineal farmers. Conversely, larger-scale commercial producers are cultivating the Andean-like cochineal, which may reflect clandestine 20th century importation.
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