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.
Intersimple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers were used to evaluate the effects of in vitro culture on genetic variation in Habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) regeneration protocols. A total of 219 ISSR clear and reproducible fragments were generated with 13 ISSR primers in direct organogenesis, direct and indirect somatic embryos, and the embryogenic callus system. A cluster analysis was performed to express in the form of dendrogram the relationships among different regeneration systems and the genetic variability detected. Genetic distance analysis indicated that our regeneration protocols are inappropriate for micropropagation, conservation, or genetic transformation; however, they may be applicable to breeding. This is the first report on the use of molecular analysis to evaluate genetic variation of in vitro-regenerated plants of Habanero pepper using ISSR markers.
The aim of this study was to determine the pungency level of different accessions of Habanero peppers. The high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) technique was used to evaluate the content of total capsaicinoids in the whole fruit, placenta, and pericarp of 18 accessions of Habanero pepper from the germplasm bank of the Capsicum chinense species maintained in the Scientific Research Center of Yucatan [Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán (CICY)]. Thirteen of these accessions belonged to the “orange type”, four to the “red type”, and one to the “yellow type”. During the study, the plants were cultivated and maintained under greenhouse conditions and the fruit was harvested only when it was completely ripe on the plant. The results show considerable intraspecific diversity for this characteristic as well as the existence of cultivars of this species that surpass the levels of pungency reported for Habanero peppers under the conditions evaluated.
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.
The ontogenesis of direct high-frequency somatic embryogenesis of C. chinense induced from hypocotyl was characterized through a histological analysis of the different phases in the histodifferentiation process during the development of the somatic embryo. The anatomical analysis was carried out since the hypocotyl segments were placed in the culture medium until 45 days of culture. The somatic embryos were induced and maintained in Murashige and Skoog medium supplemented with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (9.5 μm). Samples of tissues and organs were taken every 24 h, fixed in formalin acetic alcohol, and embedded in plastic resin. They were cut into serial sections (5 μm) and stained with toluidine blue. The analysis revealed that the proembryogenic cells originated just from provascular hypocotyl cells. Provascular cells acquired the embryogenic competence 48 h after induction and an intense mitotic division was observed and embryogenic structures were generated first along the vascular strands, which subsequently evolved into somatic embryos. After 2 weeks, there were observed embryos at different stages of development (preglobular, globular, heart-shaped, torpedo-shaped, and cotyledonary). This is the first report dealing with the ontogenesis of the direct somatic embryogenesis of C. chinense, and it is the most complete histological characterization carried out on somatic embryogenesis in the Capsicum genus to date.