The leafless Vanilla species-complex from the South-West Indian Ocean Region: A taxonomic puzzle and a model for orchid evolution and conservation research

Andriamihaja Cathucia, Ramarosandratana Ndriana Aro Vonjy H., Grisoni Michel, Jeannoda Vololoniaina, Besse Pascale. 2020. The leafless Vanilla species-complex from the South-West Indian Ocean Region: A taxonomic puzzle and a model for orchid evolution and conservation research. Diversity, 12:443, 25 p.

Journal article ; Article de synthèse ; Article de revue à facteur d'impact Revue en libre accès total
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Abstract : The pantropical genus Vanilla is a member of the Orchidaceae family, one of the largest and most diverse families of angiosperms in the world. It originated in America and differentiated in America, Africa, and Asia. About 132 species of Vanilla have now been accepted since the discovery of the genus. Within the Vanilla genus, leaflessness has appeared at least three independent times, in Africa, Asia, and America as an adaptation to drought conditions. The South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO) region, a biodiversity hotspot for orchids, is home to seven leafless species. Chloroplast markers failed to differentiate species within this recent SWIO clade. Morphological traits used for description are very similar between species and do not provide reliable identification. Moreover, some of the species have overlapping flowering periods and geographic distribution in Madagascar, increasing the probability of finding some sympatric species and, therefore, hybrids. Leafless Vanilla species from the SWIO islands are thus an excellent model for understanding the evolution of orchids. For their conservation, and to confirm the identity of these leafless species, an integrated approach with classical taxonomy using a large number of samples, intense fieldwork on biology and ecology, and molecular studies using variable markers is necessary.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Taxonomie, Vanilla, Éthnobotanique, Biodiversité, Conservation des ressources génétiques, Botanique, Écologie, Biogéographie, Distribution géographique, Valeur économique

Mots-clés géographiques Agrovoc : Madagascar, Comores, Mayotte, Seychelles, Maurice, Réunion

Mots-clés libres : Vanilla, Leafless, South West Indian ocean, Diversification, Taxonomy, Biology, Ecology, Diversity, Ethnobotany

Classification Agris : F70 - Plant taxonomy and geography
P01 - Nature conservation and land resources
F50 - Plant structure
F40 - Plant ecology

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 1 (2019-) - Biodiversité

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Andriamihaja Cathucia, Université d'Antananarivo (MDG)
  • Ramarosandratana Ndriana Aro Vonjy H., Université d'Antananarivo (MDG)
  • Grisoni Michel, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR PVBMT (MDG)
  • Jeannoda Vololoniaina, Université d'Antananarivo (MDG)
  • Besse Pascale, Université de la Réunion (REU) - auteur correspondant

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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