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Morphological characterization of Soursop (Annona muricata L.) germplasm in Sri Lanka

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Annona muricata L. is an underutilized fruit tree species in Sri Lanka, which is mostly confined to homegardens. Despite the importance of A. muricata, collection, characterization and improvement of its germplasm is limited in Sri Lanka, hence hindered its effective conservation and utilization. Therefore, the objective of this research was to identify morphological variation of A. muricata populations in Sri Lanka. Multistage Sampling Survey was conducted in homegardens of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Hambantota dictricts in the Dry zone, Puttalama and Kurunagala districts in the AIntermediate zone, and Kalutara and Gampaha districts in the Wet zone. Random representative samples were also collected from existing germplasm collections at three national research centers. Morphological variation of A. muricata were observed on total of 315 samples collected from seven districts of three climatic zones and 133 samples collected from germplasm collections at three national research centers. Forty five morphological characters were recorded from 448 accesions and subjected to Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Factor Analysis (FA), followed by Cluster Analysis. A dendrogram of evaluated characters showed nine distinguished clusters. Implications of findings are discussed in relation to utilization and conservation.

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