How to shorten a plant breeding program? A case study with ornamental peppers

Abstract Plant breeding of ornamental peppers (Capsicum spp.) can be supported by biotechnological tools. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficiency of an in vitro culture of immature zygotic embryos (IZE) to reduce the breeding cycle of ornamental pepper (C. annuum) in comparison to the conventional system. Three ornamental pepper genotypes were used: UFPB 001, UFPB 004, and UFPB 099. Embryos at 30 days after selfing were inoculated in MS ½-strength culture medium, and at the same time, seeds were placed to germinate in a commercial substrate. Approximately 215 days are required from selfing until fruit ripening in the conventional system, whereas the IZE system requires an average of 153 days, a decrease of approximately 30% per selection cycle, corresponding to 496 days considering 8 selfing cycles. A decrease in time, labor, and inputs makes the IZE system a suitable tool for shortening the breeding program of ornamentals peppers.