Genomic and Morphological Differentiation of Spirit Producing Agave angustifolia Traditional Landraces Cultivated in Jalisco, Mexico

Plants (Basel). 2022 Aug 31;11(17):2274. doi: 10.3390/plants11172274.


Traditional agave spirits such as mezcal or tequila are produced all over Mexico using different species of Agave. Amongst them, A. angustifolia is the most popular given its agricultural extension. A. angustifolia is a wild species extensively distributed from North to Central America, and previous studies show that it is highly related to the tequila agave A. tequilana. In different regions of Mexico, A. angustifolia is cultivated under different types and levels of management, and although traditional producers identify several landraces, for the non-trained eye there are no perceivable differences. After interviews with producers from different localities in Jalisco, Mexico, we sampled A. angustifolia plants classified as different landraces, measured several morphological traits, and characterized their genetic differentiation and diversity at the genome-wide level. We included additional samples identified as A. tequilana and A. rhodacantha to evaluate their relationship with A. angustifolia. In contrast with previous studies, our pool of ca 20K high quality unlinked SNPs provided more information and helped us to distinguish different genetic groups that are congruent with the ethnobotanical landraces. We found no evidence to genetically delimitate A. tequilana, A. rhodacantha and A. angustifolia. Our large genome level dataset allows a better understanding of the genetic identity of important A. angustifolia traditional and autochthonous landraces.

Keywords: A. angustifolia; A. rhodacantha; A. tequilana; Agave; mescal; mezcal; tequila.