Hot pepper is the dominant vegetable crop grown in different parts of Ethiopia with long history of cultivation and considerable genetic diversity for most important morphological traits. However, shortage of varieties, the prevalence of fungal and bacterial as well as viral diseases, information is lacking on genetic diversity and genetic information to design genetic resource conservation to improve yield and yield components of hot pepper. The study was undertaken to assess the morphological diversity of 64 hot pepper genotypes at Axum Agricultural Research Centre in Mereb Leke District during the year 2017/2018, using 8×8 simple lattice design. Analysis of variance revealed that there were a significant (P<0.01) differences in genetic variation among genotypes for 19 morphological and fruit characters. The genetic distances measured by D2 and Ward's clustering method was grouped (the 64 genotypes) into seven distinct clusters. The maximum and minimum distances were observed between Clusters III and VII (189.09) and clusters I and V (29.24). This indicated the existence of a possibility to improve genotypes through hybridization from pair of clusters and subsequent selection can be made from the segregants generations. Principal component analysis showed that the first five principal component analysis explained about 79.45% of the total variation. Generally, the study confirmed presence of adequate genetic diversity between any pair of clusters which could be exploited for future variety improvement program.
Key words: Capsicum, cluster analysis, principal component analysis.
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