GENETIC DIVERGENCE AMONG COWPEA GENOTYPES BASED ON CHARACTERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE GREEN POD AND GRAIN MARKET
ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to evaluate genetic divergence among cowpea genotypes and to select parents for crosses aimed at the fresh pod and grain market. Two experiments were carried out during 2014, corresponding to two sowing times, in the municipality of Mossoró, State of Rio Grande do Norte. Twenty-three cowpea genotypes were evaluated in a randomized complete block design with four replicates. Fifteen descriptors were used to quantify divergence, using the Mahalanobis distance as a measure of dissimilarity, obtained from the genotypic mean predicted by the Restricted Maximum Likelihood/Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (REML/BLUP) method. The Unweighted Pair Group Method with Arithmetic Mean (UPGMA) hierarchical method was used to group genotypes and the Singh criterion to quantify the contribution of traits to genetic divergence. The genotype × environment interaction (G × E) influenced divergence, both in the contribution of traits and in the grouping of genotypes. In the experiment 1, the genotypes were distributed among four groups. In the experiment 2, less discrimination occurred and the genotypes were represented by only two groups. When joint analysis of two evaluations was carried out based on two sowing times, genotypes were represented by six groups. The G × E interaction influences the contribution of traits and the grouping of cowpea genotypes in the study of divergence. The genetic divergence of the set of cowpea genotypes evaluated is mainly due to green grain and pod yield. BRS Aracê and BRS Xiquexique cultivars are the most divergent among the genotypes studied, representing 75% of the recommended crosses.