The aim of this study is to identify the phenotypic variability of 60 lowland NERICA varieties and 18 promising lines for better management of their genetic inheritance. The experimental design used was an augmented randomized complete block. Data on 23 agro-morphological traits were collected and analyzed. The analysis of variance showed highly significant differences (P<0.0001) between the variables and revealed the structure of the different genotypes from 11 quantitative discriminate traits. Cluster analysis and principal component analysis were carried out. The entries were grouped into three clusters irrespective of the level of backcrossing of genotypes. Eighty percent of lowland NERICA containing the desired characters adapted to lowland rice cultivation were grouped in cluster 1. The second cluster includes lowland NERICA varieties that can be grown in both upland and lowland ecologies, while the last group comprised only varieties close to their African parent and mainly adapted to the upland. Tillering at 60 days after sowing (DAS), plant height at maturity, maturity and spikelet fertility were the most discriminate and could therefore supplement a wide range of variables for genetic diversity study.
Key words: Lowland NERICA, promising lines, agro-morphological descriptors, cluster
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