The haploid chromosomal count of the cultivated and wild species is 12. There are wide variations among and within the species, whether wild or cultivated, as no karyotype is characterized by any single species and certain characteristics are studied among the majority of the members. Natural polyploidy is reported in the case of Capsicum, although a spontaneous tetraploid has also been reported in an intravarietal cross. Induced polyploidy with colchicine has also been reported where the induced polyploid exhibits a high vitamin C content profile. Diploids showing mitotic abnormalities and irregularities have also been reported (The Wealth of India, 1992).
In general, there appears to be a well-developed sterility barrier between cultivated species. It is impossible to cross C. pubescens with other species. Several crosses between C. annuum, C. frutescens and C. baccatum var. pendulum have produced a few Fj hybrids but are mostly highly sterile. In the case of favourable crosses, the success or failure depends upon the direction of the cross. Reciprocal differences were observed in the case of fertility. The result of hybridization also differed according to the parental cultivars. Viable seeds have easily been produced from C. annuum X C. chinensis and C. frutescens X C. pendulum. The crosses C. annuum X C. frutescens and C. frutescens X C. chinensis have yielded a few viable F1; F2 and bud cross seeds (The Wealth of India, 1992).
Thus, on the basis of the above study, we may come to the conclusion that the genus Capsicum represents a very wide and divergent taxonomic group consisting of both wild and cultivated species. Some workers consider Capsicum to consist of three principal species, C. annuum, C. frutescens and C. chinense, but others have divided the genus into a divergent spectrum of species.
Sometimes superficial morpho-anatomical and conventional biochemical and cytological techniques are not sufficient to differentiate between closely associated species. But with enhancement and advancement in the realms of Molecular Biology, Molecular Genetics, Phytochemistry and Cell Biology, the genus stands the possibility of being further split. Only further scientific investigation in new directions can broadly highlight the taxonomic status of the genus Capsicum.
The authors do not claim any originality in the presentation of this chapter. It is only an effort on the part of the authors to reorganize and reconstruct the available literature to give a brief introduction to the readers.
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