Morphological and molecular parameters for the characterization of accessions of pepper with ornamental potential
Ornamental peppers have been attracting great commercial interest in recent years. However, despite the demand, the availability of ornamental pepper cultivars to growers and consumers is still reduced, which should stimulate breeding programs for improved varieties. In this context, the identification and characterization of accessions in ornamental pepper germplasm banks is extremely important. We phenotypically characterized nine pepper accessions and analyzed the genetic divergence between them for the potential development of ornamental pepper cultivars. The experiment was conducted in a greenhouse at the agricultural sciences center of the State University of Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, in a completely randomized design, with nine accessions and eight replications. The plants were morphologically characterized with 34 qualitative and five quantitative descriptors. For taxonomic identification to the species level, a key to identify Capsicum species was used. In the molecular analysis, 32 ISSR primers were used for the detection of polymorphism between individuals. A multivariate analysis was performed by estimating the genetic dissimilarity by the Jaccard coefficient for the molecular variables and by the Gower algorithm for the morphological ones, using the UPGMA method for hierarchical analysis of clusters. The nine accessions that were selected for evaluation were considered as potential parents due to characteristics of ornamental interest. The accessions were all classified as belonging to the species Capsicum annuum and were grouped differently when using morphological versus molecular data. Analysis of molecular data detected greater dissimilarity between accessions, with the formation of a larger number of groups. The joint exploration of the morphological and molecular information allows a more reliable inference of the genetic dissimilarity between accessions and will facilitate planning of crosses.