Artificial neural networks as auxiliary tools for the improvement of bean plant architecture.
Classification using a scale of visual notes is a strategy used to select erect bean plants in order to improve bean plant architectures. Use of morphological traits associated with the phenotypic expression of bean architecture in classification procedures may enhance selection. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential of artificial neural networks (ANNs) as auxiliary tools in the improvement of bean plant architecture. Data from 19 lines were evaluated for 22 traits, in 2007 and 2009 winter crops. Hypocotyl diameter and plant height were selected for analysis through ANNs. For classification purposes, these lines were separated into two groups, determined by the plant architecture notes. The predictive ability of ANNs was evaluated according to two scenarios to predict the plant architecture - training with 2007 data and validating in 2009 data (scenario 1), and vice versa (scenario 2). For this, ANNs were trained and validated using data from replicates of the evaluated lines for hypocotyl diameter individually, or together with the mean height of plants in the plot. In each scenario, the use of data from replicates or line means was evaluated for prediction through previously trained and validated ANNs. In both scenarios, ANNs based on hypocotyl diameter and mean height of plants were superior, since the error rates obtained were lower than those obtained using hypocotyl diameter only. Lower apparent error rates were verified in both scenarios for prediction when data on the means of the evaluated traits were submitted to better trained and validated ANNs.