Group Capsicum sp. breeding - Introduction

pimientosLine 1: Breeding for fruit quality.

The main objective is to select and develop new breeding lines and/or cultivars of peppers, with special emphasis in common pepper (Capsicum annuum) but also including other cultivated species (C. frutescens, C. chinense, C. baccatum, and C. pubescens), with high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. These include: ascorbic acid (vitamin C), flavonoids (phenolics), red and yellow/orange carotenoids (including vitamin A-precursors like α- and β-carotene, β-criptoxanthin). Furthermore, to make competitive these materials, our breeding efforts also include selection for high fruit set and yield under a range of growing conditions, including the study of abiotic stresses (low temperatures, hydric stress, saline stress, etc.) in all the mentioned traits. Breeding efforts for developing materials with high levels of dry matter and carotenoids, for the ground powder industry, are also done in our research group. Activities also include breeding for stability of carotenoid extracts under long-term storage conditions and against photoxidation. Finally, a research project devoted in the study and exploitation of genetic diverstity in Capsicum for pungency and aroma (capsaicinoids and odor-contributing volatiles) is being carried out during the last 5 years. This includes the study of the diversity of volátiles compoubnds in the genus Capsicum as well as establishing models of inheritance for individual and total volatiles.

Line 2: Overcoming interspecific barriers within genus Capsicum.

C. annuum plants can be affected by many different stresses from both biotic (pests and diseases) and abiotic origin (e.g. sunscald, low temperatures, salinity, hydric stress). In this respect, several sources carrying resistancesor tolerances have been reported in other Capsicum species. Unfortunately, in many cases, sexual incompatibility between C. annuum and these species may difficult, or avoid, to transfer these genes from one species to the other. There are cases of prezygotic barriers (after pollination there is no fertilization and, consequently, no embryo) or postzygotic barriers (the embryo may begin its development but it aborts in inmature stages). In our research group we are testing and improving the efficiency of several strategies to overcome this range of incompatibility barriers invloving all the cultivated species of Capsicum: i) bridge crossings and ii) in vitro rescue of inmature embryos.