This study was done to determine the mid-parent heterosis, the general (GCA) and specific (SCA) combining abilities of storage root yield, sweet potato virus resistance (SPVD), flesh color and vine weight of candidate sweet potato clones. Sixteen selected genotypes from two gene pools were crossed in an 8B×8A cross having 64 families. Trials were conducted with 1,896 offsprings and 16 parents during two seasons at the National Crops Resources Research Institute in Uganda (NaCRRI) using a Westcott design (only checks were replicated). Significant differences in performance were noted among families for all traits in both seasons (P ≤ 0.001). Magabali×NK259L and Resisto×Naspot 7 were the best crosses for improving total storage root while Naspot 5×Naspot 7 stood out as the best cross for flesh color. The ratio of general combining ability to specific combining ability (GCA/SCA) for storage root, flesh color and SPVD ranged from 0.55 to 0.79, implying that additive gene effects were more important than non-additive gene effects for these traits. For vine weight, non-additive gene effects tended to be predominant. A susceptible parent Magabali and a moderately susceptible parent Naspot 1 had the most resistant progenies. This suggests that SPVD resistant alleles could be homozygous recessive, which may be confirmed in further studies. Correlation studies between traits were almost all significant except for flesh color and storage root yield. There was a positive and significant correlation (P ≤ 0.001) between flesh color and SPVD resistance, with orange roots being the most resistant to SPVD. This important finding can help breeders to come up with orange-fleshed sweet potatoes that are highly resistant to virus diseases.
Key words: Sweet potato combining ability, heterosis, genetic effect, storage root, sweet potato virus resistance (SVDP), flesh color, vine weight.
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