Yam is a promising income source for small producers in the Recôncavo Baiano region. However, few genetic studies have been conducted with this culture. In this sense, the aim of this study was to assess genetic variability among 89 genotypes of yam (Dioscorea rotundata Poir.) collected in four municipalities in Bahia State, Brazil. These were assessed based on eight quantitative descriptors. Data were subjected to descriptive statistics, Spearman's rank correlation, Singh criterion, cluster analysis, principal component analysis and dispersion graph. The tuber weight showed the highest coefficient of variation and correlated positively and significantly with width and length of tuber. The tuber length characteristics contributed most to the genetic divergence. The criterion pseudo-t2 divided 89 genotypes into seven groups, being that groups 4, 5 and 7 showed the highest averages for the production characteristics. The first three principal components explained 69.49% variation and dispersion graph showed partly concordant with UPGMA method. This study revealed the existence of genetic variability of yam, which may be explored in future genetic improvement programs.
Key words: Dioscorea rotundata Poir., multivariate methods, plant genetic resources, plant breeding.
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