The purpose of this study was to investigate the morphological diversity of plantain accessions from three main plantain growing districts in Benin Republic. Sixteen descriptors were used including 5 quantitative. Overall, 31 cultivars were identified and associated with various names depending on the sociolinguistic groups. Results indicated the presence in each district of the three types of inflorescences (male rachis appearance) that describe the plantain subgroup. False horn is the most represented with 19 accessions, followed by French type with 10 accessions and True horn with only two accessions. All plantains were giant cultivars with pseudostem greater than 3 m, except hybrid L5449, which averaged 2.89±0.06 m. The collection was dominated by accessions having slightly oblique or sub-horizontal bunches (83.87%). Quantitative variables were submitted to Principal Component Analysis (PCA) which led to the separation of all the accessions into four clusters having specific traits that can be harnessed diversely in a breeding program. The presence of the three types of inflorescences confirmed plantain phenotypical diversity, with “False horn” type dominating plantain cultivars. Moreover, the occurrence of genetic erosion of white pulp cultivars is due to consumer preferences.
Key words: Accession, collection of bananas, biodiversity, phenotypical variability.
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