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  • Author or Editor: Laura P. Peña-Yam x
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The Yucatan Peninsula is recognized as the center of genetic diversity of Habanero peppers (Capsicum chinense Jacq.), which can be distinguished from those cultivated in other regions of the world by their aroma, taste, and—most of all—by their pungency. We evaluated three commercial varieties of chili peppers reported as being the hottest in the world: ‘Bhut Jolokia’, ‘Trinidad Moruga Scorpion’, and ‘Carolina Reaper’. The aim of our study was to determine the behavior of the pungency when cultivated under the edaphoclimatic conditions of Yucatan. Our results show that the three varieties registered greater contents in comparison with those reported in other regions of the world. ‘Carolina Reaper’—considered to be the hottest variety in the world, with a pungency of 2,200,000 Scoville heat units (SHU)—when cultivated in Yucatan, had a pungency of 3,006,330 SHU, which was greater than all the other varieties analyzed.

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The variability and genetic parameters of seven agronomic characteristics were estimated for 11 genotypes, and high values of the phenotypic coefficient of variation (PCV) of capsaicin content (CC) were obtained. Heritability (h2) was high for yield per plant (YP; 0.98) and CC (0.93). The principal components analysis (PCA) revealed that the first three components explained 94.02% of the total variation; therefore, genotypes with higher YP values and fruit weight (FW) (AKN-08, ASBC-09) were placed in quadrant I. Those with greater CC and lowest YP and FW (MBI-11, RES-05) were placed in quadrant II. The greatest fruit length (RNJ-04) was placed in quadrant III. Those with the greatest number of fruits per plant (NBA-06, RKI-01, RHC-02, RHN-03, NKA-07, and MSB-12) were placed in quadrant IV. The results showed that the genotypes studied comprise an excellent source of genetic material for Habanero pepper improvement programs.

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