A study was conducted during 2008 to 2009 in 12 environments in Nigeria, Benin Republic and Togo to evaluate genetic variation and heritability of yield and related traits in 48 rice genotypes. The experiments were laid out in a randomized complete block design (RCBD) with three replications. Genotypes differed significantly at p > 0.001 for all the traits studied, which implies that the genotypes contain adequate genetic variability. Phenotypic coefficients of variation (PCV) were higher than genotypic coefficients of variation (GCV) in all the characters across the 12 environments. High heritability estimates were obtained for days to flowering (91.37), days to maturity (86.86), plant height at maturity, number of tiller per meter square, panicle shattering, panicle threshability, panicle per meter and panicle length (72.21) suggesting that the traits are primarily under genetic control. High estimates of heritability, GCV and genetic advance (GA) observed for grain yield is an indication that selection for grain yield could be achieved through phenotypic performance. Furthermore, high estimates of heritability, GA and GCV recorded in these characters could be explained by additive gene action. Low estimates of heritability, GCV and GA recorded for grain yield and number of grains per panicle could be due to non-additive gene effect suggesting that these traits were less responsive to specific environment influences. Grain yield recorded highly significant positive correlation with panicle length (0.28), leaf width (0.40), grain length (0.30), number of panicles per meter square (0.19) and1000-grain weight (0.17). It correlated negatively with basal leaf sheath coloration (-0.33) and grain width (-0.20) in the 12 environments. The current study indicated that more number of tillers, panicles per meter square, long panicles, high number of primary and secondary branch panicles and large 1000-grain weight are important yield related traits and could be used for selection in rice breeding programs.
Key words: Correlation coefficients, heritability, phenotypic coefficients, rice, variability, yield components.
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