Purple-grain maize is a marginal cereal grown exclusively and consumed in the Central-North of Côte d'Ivoire. However, few studies have been done on the diversity of this cultivar. Whereas, the use of local genetic resources available for breeding purposes requires a good knowledge of their agronomic and morphological characteristics. Thus, 70 accessions of purple-grain maize collected in the Hambol region were subject to an agro-morphological characterization study. The test was carried out in an alpha-lattice device (10 × 7) and repeated three times. The observations focus on 18 variables which have been selected in the maize descriptor proposed by Bioversity International. Descriptive analyses revealed a high inter-accession variability for quantitative traits. The multi varied analyses (principal component analysis (PCA) and a hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA)) made it possible to structure this diversity into two groups. The semi-flowering cycles (FlMa and FlFe), the heights of the plants (HaPl and HiEp) as well as the length of maize cobs (LoEp) were the main discriminating characters between the groups, because they could be used as estimators of phenotypic diversity for this plant. In addition, the accessions from each group could be brewed in order to develop different populations with broad genetic base. This will permit to enhance and to conserve diversity.
Key words: Côte d’Ivoire, agro-morphological diversity, purple-grain maize, marginal.
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