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African Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 7(23), pp. 3413-3417, 19 June, 2012 Available online at DOI: 10.5897/AJAR11.

2171 ISSN 1991-637X 2012 Academic Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Genetic diversity evaluation of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in Tunisia based on morphologic characters
Karima Lahbib*, Fethi Bnejdi and Mohamed El Gazzah
Laboratoire de Biodiversit, Biotechnologie et Changements climatiques, Facult des Sciences de Tunis, Campus El Manar 2092 Tunis, Tunisie, Tunisia.
Accepted 17 April, 2012

In order to assess the genetic diversity of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in Tunisia and to determine the characters effective on yield, eleven populations collected from different provinces of Tunisia were evaluated during 2009 to 2010 based on seven morphologic characters. Considerable variation was observed among the accessions in terms of plant morphology and economic characters. FTC-2 and FTC-6 accessions showed the best values for the majority of characters. Correlation analysis revealed that both yield per plant and placenta weight were positively correlated with the number of fruit per plant. While, fruit diameter and fruit wall thickness were negatively correlated with fruit length. No significant correlation was observed between plant height and the other characters assessed. Based on principal component analysis, three components were identified and accounted for 85% of total variance. Cluster analysis revealed three groups. With the accessions FTC-1, FTC-2, FTC-5, FTC-7, FTC8 and FCT-9 belonged to group 1. The accessions FTC-3, FTC-4, FTC-10 and FTC-11 belonged to group 2. Therefore, the accession FTC-6 formed the third group. The diversity could mainly be attributed to diverse agro-climatic conditions in Tunisia. The intraregional diversity could be as a valuable source as interregional diversity for pepper improvement. Key words: Capsicum annuum, landraces, variability, principal component analysis (PCA).

INTRODUCTION Peppers are used worldwide as spices, condiments and vegetables. Furthermore, the genus has medical and ornamental uses. Capsicum annuum L. is a dicotyledonous flowering plant and grown on more than 1.5 million hectares worldwide (FAO, 2007). Capsicum has been known as part of the human diet since the beginning of civilization (MacNeish, 1964). In Tunisia, C. annuum was introduced in the 17th century. Capsicum are widely cultivated and consumed with 19.7 thousands ha area and 291 thousands tons of production (FAO, 2008). Previously genetic diversity in Capsicum was studied using morphological (Basavaraja and Hulamani, 2001; Costa et al., 1989; Cuartero and Pochard, 1977; He and Wang, 1989; Munchi et al., 2000), biochemical (Belletti et al., 1992; Conicella et al., 1990; Odeigah et al., 1999; Panda et al., 1986) and molecular markers (Kochieva and Ryzhova, 2003; Lanteri et al., 2003; Prince et al., 1995; Rodriguez et al., 1999). The morphologic characterization, the evaluation of the genetic diversity and the documentation of a gene bank are essential to maintain an active basis for the exploration of the genetic variability in breeding programs (Viana et al., 2006; Arriel et al., 2007; Lannes et al., 2007). Collection and maintenance of the genetic diversity in Capsicum are important to avoid the genetic erosion. Besides the identification of species, the characterization and evaluation of landraces maintained in gene banks are of fundamental importance. The objective of the present study is to evaluate the genetic diversity among Tunisian pepper landraces and to identify theirs desirable morphologic and agronomic characters.

*Corresponding author. E-mail:


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Table 1. Mean ( standard errors) of seven morphologic characters assessed in 11 accessions of pepper ( C. annuum L.).

Accession FTC-1 FTC-2 FTC-3 FTC-4 FTC-5 FTC-6 FTC-7 FTC-8 FTC-9 FTC-10 FTC-11

localities El Alia, (Bizerte) El Alia, (Bizerte) Korba (CapBon) Menzel Temim (CapBon) Msaken (Sousse) Msaken (Sousse) Chbika (kairouan) Chbika (kairouan) Sbikha (Kairouan) Sbikha (Kairouan) Sbikha (Kairouan)

Plant height bcd 66.910.6 ab 77.712.5 a 86.113.7 ab 81.814.1 abc 7712.5 ab 7716.7 ab 78.812.5 ab 80.614.3 bcd 67.513.4 abc 74.514 cd 61.7.9

Fruit length b 12.52.4 a 15.22.6 b 12.22 a 14.83 c 10.11.7 f 3.30.4 de 7.22.3 cde 8.41.9 de 7.21.8 cd 9.12.2 e 6.30.65

Fruit diameter e 2.20.5 b 3 0.4 e 1.80.3 bcd 2.70.7 bc 2.80.6 a 5.20.4 bcd 2.70.3 bcd 2.70.3 cde 2.40.3 bcd 2.80.7 cde 2.40.2

Fruit wall thickness bc 2.50.4 b 2.9 0.5 c 2.30.6 bc 2.30.3 bc 2.60.4 a 3.30.6 bc 2.60.4 c 2.30.4 bc 2.40.4 c 2.20.5 bc 2.40.3

Placenta weight cd 2.7 1 a 4.91.8 bc 3.81.3 d 3.20.9 ab 4.51.5 ab 4.51.5 bc 3.71 bcd 3.41 cd 2.71 d 2.51 e 1.10.9

No of fruits /plant b 46.214.9 a 76.223.9 bc 446.6 bc 39.7 9 b 47.318 b 46.412.9 bcd 36.57 bcd 36.57.7 de 34.75.5 cd 31.713.4 e 199

Yield/plant 1151137.2 a 3282127.6 bcd 1027104.1 bcd 825183.9 b 1397120 bc 1208118.3 bcd 614124.1 bcd 639162.5 cd 363162.6 bcd 654108.2 d 207183

*Means followed by the different letter within each column significantly different based in Duncans test (P<0.05).

MATERIALS AND METHODS Plant material Eleven pepper landraces (C. annuum) were sown and assessed at the Faculty of Sciences of Tunis, during the growing season 2009 to 2010. Accessions were collected from several regions of north and the centre of Tunisia (Bizerte, Cap Bon, kairouan and Sousse) characterised by different environmental conditions. Coordination was established with the Regional Commissioner for Agricultural Development (CRDA) for visits to various farming locations for collecting material. Seven morphologic characters: Plant height, fruit length, fruit diameter fruit wall thickness, placenta weight, number of fruits per plant and fruit yield per plant were assessed (Table 1). Seeds were sown, in plastic bags containing 3:1 peat and sand mixture in the late of January. Plants four-weeks-old was transplanted in the field. The soil was sandy loam type. Seedlings were transplanted at a spacing of 6030 cm in individual plots of 3 1.2 m size. The experiments were planted in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replications. The rows lengths were 0.5m apart. Plants were irrigated every 3 to 4 days according to substrate humidity, with all recommended agronomic practices. All landraces were harvested in late August. 50 seed for each accession were sown by replication and 15 plants were assessed.

Statistical analyses Analyses of variance and correlation were carried out with the statistical procedure SAS (SAS Institute, 1999).

RESULTS Analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed a height significant effect of populations and absence of replication effect for all characters (data not reported). The effect of population was confirmed with the result of Duncan test and a significant difference among landraces for the majorities of characters were obtained (Table 1). For plant height, the accession FTC-3 (mean 86.1 cm)

was the tallest, whereas the accession FTC-11 was the smallest (61 cm), the other accessions having moderate plant height type. However, for the six economic characters (fruit length, fruit diameter, fruit wall thickness, placenta weight, number of fruit per plant and fruit yield per plant) the highest fruit length was recorded in FTC-2 (15.2 cm) and least in FTC-6 (3.3 cm). The highest fruit diameter was recorded in FTC-6 (5.2 cm) and least in FTC-3, that is, only 1.8 cm. The highest fruit wall thickness was registered in FTC-6 (3.3 cm) and least in FTC-10 (2.2cm). The highest number of fruit per plant and yield per plant were obtained in FTC-2. The results of correlation analysis among characters are listed in Table 2. Yield per plant was strongly and positively correlated with number of fruit per plant (= 0.949), placenta weight (= 0.563) and fruit length (= 0.489). Fruit diameter and fruit wall thickness were also associated. Both the two characters were correlated to placenta weight. No correlation was showed between plant height and the other characters assessed. The analysis of principal components (PC) indicated that, with three PC, 85% of the total variation was explained (Table 3). 46% corresponded to PC1, which was related with the number of fruits per plant, yield per plant and placenta weight. 24% corresponded to PC2, related with fruit length, fruit diameter and fruit wall thickness. 14% to PC3, related with plant height. The phenotypic divergence was also confirmed through principal component analysis (PCA) pattern in term of spatial distribution. The distribution of each landrace against these two components is presented in Figure 1. The genetic accession FTC-6 was very distinct and formed a separate group. While, except the FTC-2 accession the rest of landraces were closer one to other. Cluster analysis revealed three distinct groups with the no association of the genetic groups with their geographic origins (Figure 2). The first group representing the accessions FTC-7,

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Table 2. Correlation matrix between seven morphologic characters assessed in 11 accessions of pepper ( C.annuum L.).

Fruit length Fruit diameter Fruit wall thickness Placenta weight No of fruits /plant Yield/plant
**: significant at 0.01%.

Plant height 0.079 0.067 -0.062 0.140 0.150 0.112

Fruit length -0.256 -0.122 0.189 0.536** 0.489**

Fruit diameter 0.492** 0.461** 0.274 0.236

Fruit wall thickness

Placenta weight

No of fruits/ plant

0.437** 0.373 0.326

0.641** 0.563**


Table 3. Eigenvalues, eigenvectors, proportion of variation and communality variation estimated for the first three principal components in the 11 landraces of pepper ( C. annuum L.).

Parameter Plant height Fruit length Fruit diameter Fruit wall thickness Placenta weight Nfruits/plant Yield/plant Eigenvalue Proportion of variation (%) Cumulative variance (%)

PC1 0.287 0.444 0.465 0.577 0.839 0.947 0.907 3.252 46.458 46.458

PC2 0.127 0.796 -0.784 -0.597 -0.126 0.227 0.232 1.741 24.876 71.334

PC3 0.926 -0.166 0.065 -0.235 0.160 -0.092 -0.147 1.000 14.287 85.620

FTC-8 and FTC-9 collected from Kairouan with accessions from Bizerte and Sousse regions. While, the second group consists of four populations, two from Kairouan (FTC-10 and FTC-11) and the two others from Cap Bon regions. Therefore, the FTC-6 formed the third group.

DISCUSSION Significant differences were observed among the collected landraces for the majority of characters assessed revealing the presence of genetic diversity. Based on fruit characters, FTC-2 presented the highest value of fruit length, placenta weight, number of fruits per plant and yield per plant. FTC-6 presented the high fruit diameter and fruit thickness values. In contrast, FTC-11 showed the smaller fruit size. In the present study, fruit characters including number of fruits per plant, placenta weight and fruit diameter seem to be more discriminating among accessions. The importance of fruit characters in pepper evaluation has been discussed previously by other authors (Cuartero and Pochard, 1977; Costa et al., 1989). Vegetative characters may also be useful in the distinction of Capsicum landraces (Hosamani et al., 2010; Ortiz et al., 2010). Thus plant height may be good criteria

of selection. Yield per plant in pepper is determined by component traits and is highly complex. Thus, several works have focused on the correlation of morphological characters in C. annuum and various associations between characters have been showed (He and Wang, 1989; Munchi et al., 2000). The highly significant correlations obtained between placenta weight, fruit diameter and placenta weight and fruit wall thickness were in concordance with many previous researches in pepper (Wang Ming, 1988). Accessions showing higher placenta weight may be accumulate higher level of capsaicinoids as they are synthethized in placental tissue (Suzuki and Iwai, 1984). The improvement of placenta weight leads to regenerate great number of placental cells and therefore accumulate increased levels of capsicinoids responsible for the pungent taste. Based on correlations observed, three characters including number of fruits per plant, placenta weight and fruit length were effective on yield. The cluster analysis based on agro-morphological traits assigned the eleven pepper germplasm accessions into three main clusters. A dendogram grouped the pepper accessions into individual groups. The cluster analysis did not separate the germplasm based on their geographical origins. This result is in agreement with findings of Varalakshmi and Harribabu (1991) and Sreelathakumary


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(PC1 and PC2: 71.33%)

PC2 (24.88%)

PC1 (46.46%)

Figure 1. Spatial distribution of 11 landraces of pepper ( C. annuum L.).








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and Rajamony (2004). The results showed that there was high genetic diversity with regard to morphologic and agronomic characters in the pepper collection. The diversity could mainly be attributed to diverse agro-climatic conditions in Tunisia. Accessions from different regions were sometimes closely related and accessions from the same region had different genetic background. The intraregional diversity could be as a valuable source as interregional diversity for pepper improvement. The landraces evaluated in our study were shown to have useful agronomic characteristics which exhibit a higher genetic potentiality. Molecular studies were useful to confirm the genetic diversity based on morphologic characters and to characterize theses landraces for more detailed examination. This may help to emphasize the availability of these genetic resources for future breeding programmes.
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