After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Origin and Taxonomy of Capsicum 2. Compatibility Relationship in Capsicum Species 3. Domesticated Species 4. Hot-Pepper Segments of Capsicum in India 5. Breeding Objectives 6. Important Capsicum Genes.
Origin and Taxonomy of Capsicum:
Capsicum originated in the New World tropics and sub-tropics. Mexico is the centre of diversity for C. annuum. Peppers were introduced into Spain by Columbus in 1493. Cultivation spread from the Mediterranean region to England by 1548 and to Central Europe by the close of the 16th century. It was brought to India by the Portuguese from Brazil prior to 1885. In China it came under cultivation during the late 1700s.
There are five major cultivated species in the genus Capsicum.
These five species are:
(i) Capsicum annuum
(ii) C. frutescens
(iii) C. chinense
(iv) C. pendulum
(v) C. pubescens
Esbaugh has suggested that C. pendulum and the closely related species C. microcarpum be reclassified as botanical varieties of C. baccatum. In this system C. pendulum becomes C. baccatum L. var. pendulum and C. microcarpum Cav. becomes C. baccatum L. var. baccatum.
The five major cultivated species are derived from different ancestral stocks found in three distinct centres of origin as given as follows:
C. annuum : Mexico
C. chinense : Amazonia
C. frutescens : Amazonia
C. pendulum : Peru and Bolivia
C. pubescens : Peru and Bolivia
Wild forms of all the five species except C. pubescens exist. Peppers are found growing wild from the southern edge of the USA to central Argentina. The species commonly grown in Mexico, the USA, Europe, and Asia is Capsicum annuum. The taxonomic characters of the five cultivated species are given in Table 13.2 following Greenleaf (1986).
The pungent flavour of red pepper types is due to the alkaloid capsaicin but the sweet or bell types are only slightly pungent. Pungent flavour is reported to be genetically dominant over non-pungent flavour.
Compatibility Relationship in Capsicum Species:
Various species of Capsicum are crossable between with zero success to 100% cross-ability as summarised by Smith and Heiser (1957). This is given in Table 13.3.
E = Seed germinated by embryo culture only
– = no viable seed
+ = few viable seeds
+ + = Many viable seeds
Domesticated Species of Capsicum:
1. C. pubescens
2. C. baccatum
3. C. annuum
4. C. chinense
5. C. frutescens
Scientific studies indicate that the domesticated species belong to 3 distinct and separate genetic lineages. Although the barriers between the gene pools may be breached by human intervention, this rarely happens in nature. Several of the species in the genus Capsicum can be grouped into species- complexes.
These are as follows:
C. pubsescens Complex:
1. Probably originated in Bolivia
2. Domesticated in the Andes
3. Found from Mexico to Peru, growing in the Andean South America and Central American highlands in small family plots
4. Instead of white flowers, purple flowers with large nectaries
5. Presence of conspicuous leaf pubescence and black seeds readily distinguishes it from any of other species
6. Large shrubby, herbaceous plant, can grow to 12 m and has lived up to 10 years in the tropical Americas
7. Fruits elongate to spherical
C. baccatum Complex:
1. Most commonly grown species in South America
2. Cream colour flowers with yellow, brown or dark green spots on the corolla
3. Two botanical varieties recognized:
i. C. baccatum var. baccatum
ii. C. baccatum var. pendulum
4. Var. baccatum is the wild form and var. pendulum contains domesticated forms
5. Fruit pungency – very mild to fiery hot
C. annuum Complex:
1. Three domesticated species C. chinense, C. frutescens and C. annuum share a mutual ancestral gene pool and belong to C. annuum species complex
2. Each species domesticated independently:
i. C. annuum in Mexico
ii. C. chinense in Amazonia or possibly Peru
iii. C. frutescens in Southern Central America
3. These three commercially most important in the world.
Hot-Pepper Segments of Capsicum in India:
In private sector seed companies, the following segments are common:
Red Dry/Dual Purpose:
In-dam 5 Segment:
Pod length 12-14 cm, diameter 1.2-1.3 cm, smooth skin, bright dark red colour after drying, medium pungency, 90-100 seeds/fruit, deep root system, tolerance to sucking pests, powdery midew, leaf curl virus, dieback/anthracnose.
Wonder Hot Segment:
14-16 cm x 1.3 cm pods, smooth skin, bright dark red colour after drying, medium – low pungency, 100 – 105 seeds/fruit, deep root systems, tolerance to sucking pests, powdery mildew, leaf curl virus, dieback/anthracnose.
HPH12/HPH 4884 Segment:
8-10 cm x 1.1 cm pods with pointed tips, smooth skin, fresh fruit with green colour, bright dark red after drying, medium – high pungency, 95-100 seeds/ pod, deep root system, tolerance to sucking pests, powdery mildew, leaf curl virus, dieback/ anthracnose.
Fresh Green Segment:
Jwala Segment. 12-15 cm x 1.0 – 1.1 cm pods, heavy wrinkles, parrot green colour, medium – heavy pungency, 80-90 seeds/pod, deep root system, tolerance to sucking pests, powdery mildew, leaf curl virus, dieback/anthracnose.
12-14 cm x 1.2 cm pods, smooth skin, light green colour fruit, medium pungency, 90-100 seeds/pod, deep root system, tolerance to sucking pests, powdery mildew, leaf curl virus, dieback/anthrocnose.
14-16 cm x 1.2 -1.3 cm pods, heavy to very heavy wrinkles on fruits, fruits have elastic property, blood dark red colour fruit after drying, low pungency, 95-100 seeds/pod, deep root system, tolerance to sucking pests, powdery mildew, leaf curl, dieback/anthracnose.
1. Southern Plant Introduction Station, Griffin, Georgia, USA-approximately 3000 accessions, evaluation data entered in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), a centralized computer database system
2. Asian Vegetable Research and Development Centre (AVRDC), Shanhua, Tainan, Taiwan – About 7500 base/active collection
3. Centra Agronomico Tropical de Investigations y Ensenanza (CATIE), Turrialba, Costa Rica
4. Centre for Genetic Resources, Wageningen, the Netherlands
5. Central Institute of Genetics and Germplasm, Gatersleben, Germany
6. National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, India
7. Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi, India
Breeding Objectives of Capsicum:
2. Desirable fruit shape and size (oblate or round fruit in bell pepper and long fruits in chilli), segment-wise fruit shape, size, wrinkle-ness, fruit colour, seed content and pungency in Indian context
3. Superior fruit quality (pleasing flavour, high sugar/acid ratio, high pigment content and vitamin C in bell pepper and high capsaicin, C18 H27 NO3 (a fat soluble, flavour-less, odourless and colourless compound)
4. High oleoresin in chilli
5. Resistance to diseases (fruit rot, cercospora leaf spot, powdery mildew, bacterial leaf spot, Phytophthora root rot, root knot, common leaf-curl virus)
6. Resistance/tolerance to insects (thrips, mite, aphid, fruit borer)
7. Resistance/tolerance to abiotic stresses (heat, water stress, salinity)
8. Rejuvenation ability after winter in hot-pepper in north India
9. High yield
10. Colour retention in dry chillies on drying
Important Capsicum Genes:
The Capsicum genes considered important to plant breeders are listed in Table 13.4 based on the compilation by Greenleaf (1986).