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  • Author or Editor: Matthew Wohlgemuth Blair x
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Nohra Rodríguez Castillo, Daniel Ambachew, Luz Marina Melgarejo and Matthew Wohlgemuth Blair

Global demand for juice of the purple passion fruit, Passiflora edulis f. edulis, is growing, making it a promising species for farmers to grow in the highland tropics, to which it is adapted. However, research centers and private companies have done little to produce new high-yielding varieties. The objective of the present study, therefore, was to evaluate the agronomic and morphological characteristics of 50 passion fruit genotypes across two different elevations and agro-ecological sites as a base for germplasm enhancement. Three groups of genotypes were commercial cultivars (8 genotypes), genebank accessions (8), and landraces (34) collected from throughout the highlands of Colombia. The locations were at 1800 m above sea level (masl) (Pasca), in a place where cultivation of passion fruits is common; and at 2500 masl (Susacón), at a higher elevation site compared with most commercial plantings equal to a new agroecology for cultivation of the crop. Results indicated that the mid-elevation site produced higher yields (kg fruit/plant) than the high elevation site, although some landraces were highly productive there. Commercial cultivar and genebank accessions clustered together in a principal component analysis (PCA); while landraces showed high levels of variation in the trait descriptors with five different clusters. Therefore, landraces of purple passion fruit contained greater genetic diversity than commercial cultivars or the genebank, and breeding programs for the crop should use landraces to increase diversity of varieties available to producers and to further expand the crop to new regions, at higher elevations, or with different agro-ecologies.