Phenotypic divergence among eleven landraces belonging to a collection of Capsicum annuum species and maintained at the Faculty of Science, University of Tunis, was quantiï¬ed by multivariate analysis for seven morphological traits. The multivariate data set was analyzed by canonical discriminant analysis in combination with a clustering procedure using generalized Malahanobis distance D2. The first two canonical variates were significant and accounted for 84.524% of the total variability. Using generalized Mahalanobis distances, all the 11 landraces were grouped into three clusters. The genetic stocks within cluster had smaller D2 values among themselves than those belonging to different clusters. Accessions FTC-6 and FTC-11 (clusters II and III, respectively) had distinct identity. Multivariate analysis performed indicates large magnitude of phenotypic divergence in the landraces studied and was successful in differentiating the accessions into similar groups on the basis of the measured traits. The characteristics that played the greatest role in differentiation were number of fruits per plant, fruit diameter, placenta weight and fruit length. Plant breeders can use the information on variation among C. annuum landraces for pepper improvement yield and for obtaining good segregants in pepper breeding programs.
Key words: Capsicum annuum, morphological traits, canonical discriminant analysis, Malahanobis, yield improvement, breeding programs.
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