Intercultivar Hybridization

Considerable intercultivar variability exists in pepper for yield, quality and morphological features. This aspect coupled with viable sexual reproduction and vegetative multiplication have made hybrid breeding in black pepper very attractive. Genetic improvement through hybridization generally involves three main steps:

(1) Selection of parents (2) Production of progeny and (3) Selection of superior genotypes to be developed into clones (varieties).

Hybridization work in pepper was started by 1959 in India at the Pepper Research Station, Panniyur. Evaluation of Fx progenies of many crosses led to the hybrid Panniyur 1 (Fig. 2.23), a selection from Fx of a cross between cv. Uthirancottax Cheriyakanikkadan. This hybrid was released in 1966. A second hybrid Panniyur 3, was also developed from the Fx population involving the same parents in early 1990s.

No information is available on the breeding value of various varieties used as parents. General or specific combining ability of pepper cultivars are not worked out due to the perennial nature of the vine. In the absence of such information the available gene pool is used at random for inercultivar hybridization. At IISR, cultivars having

Figure 2.23 Panniyur 1, the first hybrid black pepper growing in a pot as bush pepper.

promising characters are being used as parents. A large number of crosses involving many cultivars were made and the progenies tested for yield in preliminary trials. The promising F1 plants were multiplied and planted for comparative yield evaluation. A few hybrids having desirable yield attributes have been short listed. Two lines having good yield and adaptability for higher elevation were also identified (NRCS 1992).

Intercultivar hybridization work is in progress in Malaysia from 1963, and in Indonesia from 1989. The genepool in both these countries are quite narrow, and the parents were selected based on their performance as varieties. The F plants were subjected to a preliminary selection in the nursery, eliminating the unhealthy and stunted ones. The others were subjected to screening for Phytophthora, and the susceptible ones were further eliminated. The selected progenies were finally field planted for evaluation in progeny plots. The worth of individual plants was assessed visually in terms of vigour in growth, plant architecture, yielding potential and susceptibility to pests and diseases. The promising ones were multiplied and evaluated in replicated and multilocational trials. The general breeding scheme used in cross breeding is given in the Scheme 2.2 (Sim 1993).

Sim (1993) has outlined the following types of crosses that can be used for crop improvement work in pepper:

1. Single crosses between different cultivars and varieties

2. Single crosses between pepper varieties and other Piper spp. of economic importance

How Make Flow Chart For Peppers
Scheme 2.2 Flow chart of crossbreeding programme in pepper with special emphasis on foot rot tolerance.

3. Double crosses between promising F1s of various crosses

4. Three-way crosses between selected varieties and promising progenies of various crosses

5. More complex crosses involving progenies of double and three way crosses

6. Back crosses of promising offsprings to recurrent parent.

Realization of full potential of heterosis from these crosses are limited due to the nonavailability of inbred lines. Nevertheless large number of hybrids have been raised and evaluated and many promising lines are under various stages of testing in India and Malaysia.

There is only one variety developed so far from the back cross procedure. In Sarawak, a cross was made between Balankotta and Kuching in 1966 and one of the progenies (Hybrid 10) that survived the inoculation with Phytophthora capsici in the field was selected. It was a poor yielder and hence was back crossed to its high yielding parent Kuching. Several back crosses were made and the back cross progenies were subjected to laboratory screening and field testing and one of them (hybrid 359) was found promising. This was planted in 138 localities and evaluated between 1984 and 1991 and released under the name Semongok emas. This hybrid has several distinct advantages such as (i) good setting and more uniform spikes than Kuching, so that the harvesting can be completed in three rounds compared to five or six rounds in Kuching, (ii) foliage is less dense resulting in faster harvesting, (iii) stable yield, (iv) less susceptible to the attack of black berry disease, Phytophthora foot rot and pepper weevil. However, Semongok emas is more susceptible to root knot nematode, but is also more responsive to nematicides than Kuching (Sim 1993).

At the Indian Institute of Spices Research, a large number of intercultivar hybrids are under different stages of testing for yield and resistance to Phytophthora. Of the hybrids a few have shown high yield and tolerance to Phytophthora and they are under different stages of evaluation.

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