American Journal of Plant Sciences, 2013, 4, 2112-2117
Published Online November 2013 (
Open Access AJPS
Genetic Correlation between Agronomically Important
Traits in Yellow Passion Fruit
Leonarda Grillo Neves1, Claudio Horst Bruckner2, Marcelo Coutinho Picanço3,
Severino de Paiva Sobrinho4, Kelly Lana Araújo1, Petterson Baptista da Luz4,
Marco Antonio Aparecido Barelli4, Willian Krause4
1Laboratóriode Melhoramento Genético Vegetal, Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Cáceres, Brasil; 2Departamento de
Fitotecnia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, Brasil; 3Departamento de Entomologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa,
Brasil; 4Departamento de Agronomia, Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso, Cáceres, Brasil.
Received August 16th, 2013; revised September 16th, 2013; accepted October 15th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Leonarda Grillo Neves et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Breeding programs have sought to determine the minimum period of genotype evaluation, which is a long term-process.
The objective of this work was to determine the association between qualitative traits of yellow passion fruit (Passiflora
edulis Sims) and relate maturity to other characteristics. To carry out this work, 113 families of full-sibs and half-sibs
were planted in Viçosa (MG), Brazil, in a randomized block experimental design arranged in sets (treatment groups).
The association between the analyzed characteristics was studied using path analysis and canonical correlation tech-
niques. It was found that lower-yielding but larger-fruit bearing genotypes of passion fruit plant also require more days
until reaching anthesis. Round-shaped fruits are linked to higher contents of total soluble solids. More intense pulp color
also indicates higher contents of total soluble solids. The riper the fruit, the more intensely orange is the color of the
pulp. The ratio between the levels of total soluble solids and total titrimetric acidity was the main determinant of pulp
color for passion fruit.
Keywords: Canonical Correlation; Passiflora edulis; Path Correlation
1. Introduction
Yellow passion fruit has drawn great interest from fruit
producers, given its fast production cycle compared to
other fruit species and high market demand for in natura
consumption and industrialization, with whole juice
emerging as the most economically important product
within this trend [1]. Passion fruit has wide acceptance
due to its taste, aroma and quality of its juice, and is
consumed in several forms. The peel of the fruit, from
which pectin is extracted, is used to produce jellies and
pharmaceutical products [2,3]. Its seeds, which amount
to nearly 10% of fruit weight, have fat contents of up to
25% [4], making them good sources of oils for the food
and cosmetics industries [5,6].
In Brazil, the main producing states during the 2011
harvest were: Bahia (410 thousand t·ha1·year1), Ceará
(thousand t·ha1·year1), Espírito Santo (52 thousand
t·ha1·year1), Sergipe (45 thousand t·ha1·year1) and
Minas Gerais (38 thousand t·ha1· year1) [7].
In fruit species, fruit quality determines the acceptance
of the product. Given the requirements set by producers
and consumers, studying the correlations between gains
in fruit traits is of great importance as it guides the future
of breeding programs, by aiding in the improvement of
several traits simultaneously. Several different biometric
techniques are available to study the association between
characteristics, such as canonical correlation and path
analysis [8].
Canonical correlation analysis makes it possible to ex-
plain the relationship between two sets of variables, by
finding a small number of linear combinations, in each
variable set, so as to maximize possible correlations be-
tween the groups [8]. Analysis of canonical variables
(obtained from linear combinations) can be quite useful
in the study of multivariate dependencies. In plant ge-
netic breeding, studying the direct and indirect effects of
traits on a core variable makes it possible to evaluate
whether the relationship between two variables has a
Genetic Correlation between Agronomically Important Traits in Yellow Passion Fruit 2113
cause and effect, or is determined by the influence of
another variable or variables. Path analysis can be con-
ducted through phenotypic, genotypic or environmental
correlations [8].
The objectives of this work were to determine the as-
sociation between qualitative traits of the passion fruit
plant, and relate maturity to the other traits.
2. Material and Methods
A total of 113 families of full-and half-sibs were evaluated,
descending from plants located in the area around the
Bela Joana Company, in Campos dos Goytacazes-RJ,
Brazil; these plants originated from São Francisco do
Itabapoana, Maguary and Yellow Máster populations.
The crosses that originated the progenies were carried
out in Campos dos Goytacazes and followed the proce-
dure described by Hallauer and Miranda Filho [9], based
on Design I by Comstock and Robinson, in which a pol-
len donor plant (male parent) was crossed with five re-
ceptor plants (female parent). Thus, three female parent
fruits were obtained to constitute the experiment.
To perform the study, all 113 families (full-sibs and
half-sibs) were planted in an experimental area belonging
to the Crop Science Department of the Federal Univer-
sity of Viçosa, located at the Mamão farm, municipality
of Viçosa (MG), Brazil. Design I was used [9], in a ran-
domized blocks experimental design arranged in sets
(treatment groups), consisting of 03 sets: Set 01 com-
prised treatments 01 to 40; Set 02, 41 to 80; and Set 03
contained treatments 81 to 113. Within each set, the ran-
domized blocks design was used, with three replications.
Each experimental plot consisted of three plants, spaced
2.5 meters apart. The management system consisted of
vertical cordons, at a spacing of 2.80 meters between
rows. Drip irrigation was used and crop treatments con-
sisted of those recommended for passion fruit plants.
Canonical correlation analysis evaluated the relation-
ship between two groups of variables. The first (group x)
was characterized by the following traits:
1) Natural incidence of two-spotted spider mite: Mites
were counted in the field, in the tertiary branch, on the 1st,
2nd and 3rd leaves. This count was carried out using an
8250 G magnifier, 50 mm in diameter with 3.5× magni-
fication, stipulating a 2.5 cm2 field of vision. The count
was undertaken on the trilobate leaf of the passion fruit
plant, on the abaxial surface, and on the two central in-
tersection points with the midrib. The number of mites
was estimated by adding both quadrants of each leaf, for
all three leaves, and from the average obtained from all
three plants per plot.
2) Days until anthesis (DUA): DUA was determined
by counting the number of days since field sowing until
the first flower appeared on the plot.
3) Total soluble solids content (˚Brix) (TSS): After the
plants began to bear fruits, treatments were evaluated
through the averages of the plots. TSS was determined
through refractometry, using a portable refractometer,
with readings in the 0 - 32 ˚Brix range, following extrac-
tion and filtration of the juice from each fruit through
nylon screen sieve.
The second group (group y) was characterized by the
following traits:
1) Yield of the first flowering (g/plot (21 m2)) (YFF):
YFF was defined from average fruit weight and by the
number of fruits harvested in the first flowering.
2) Pulp weight with seeds (PW): calculated on a digital
scale and expressed in grams.
3) Equatorial diameter (ED) and fruit length (mm) (FL):
measured by a pachymeter and expressed in millimeters.
Path analysis was carried out between the following
1) Fruit maturity (Main Variable) (FM). The classifi-
cation of fruits with regard to maturity was conducted by
separating fruits according to peel color, according to a
grading scale [10], as described in Table 1.
2) Total titrimetric acidity (TTA). Total titrimetric
acidity was determined in accordance with the method-
ology recommended by the AOAC [11] and modified by
Araújo [12], by titrating 5 ml of juice from each fruit
with NaOH 0.5 mol·L1, under agitation, for each of the
three types of maturity established previously. Next,
these were diluted in distilled water at a ratio of 5:1, us-
ing phenolphthalein at 1 g/L as indicator. The results
were expressed in gram equivalent of citric acid per 100
ml of juice.
3) TSS/TTA. The ratio was obtained by dividing the
content of total soluble solids (TSS) by total titrimetric
acidity (TTA).
4) Pulp color (PC). Pulp color was determined using
the color scale defined in the Table 2.
After the juice was extracted from each fruit, from
each of the three maturity points, scores were attributed
by visual comparison established between the scoring
chart and 20 ml of pure seedless juice. The visual com-
parison was performed by five evaluators, and the final
result was obtained by identifying the largest number of
indications into one of the classes.
2.1. Canonical Correlation Analysis
Two groups of X and Y variables were admitted, defined
Table 1. Grading scale used to evaluate the maturity of pas-
sion fruit.
1 Predominantly green, at least 30% of final color.
2 Predominantly in final color. Combined with green.
3 Fully infinal color. Yellow.
Open Access AJPS
Genetic Correlation between Agronomically Important Traits in Yellow Passion Fruit
Open Access AJPS
Table 2. Grading scale used to evaluate the color of passion fruit.
Score 6 5 4 3 2 1
Description Orange Light orange Golden Yellow Light yellow Whitish yellow
Hue 17 25 34 42 42 42
Saturation 255 255 255 255 255 255
Brightness 128 128 128 128 204 242
Red 255 255 255 255 255 255
Green 102 153 204 255 255 255
Blue 0 0 0 0 153 249
xx x
= vector of the measurements of
p traits that comprise group I.
= vector of the measurements of
q traits that comprise group II.
Yyy y
The estimation of the maximum correlation between
linear combinations of traits from groups I and II, and the
respective weight ages of the traits in each linear combi-
nation, was given by:
X1 = a1x1 + a2x2 + ... + apxp , e, Y1 = b1y1 + b2y2 + ... +
bqyq. In which,
12 vector of weights of the
traits of group I.
',,, 1
aaa a
vector of weights of the
traits of group II.
',,, 1
The first canonical correlation was expressed by:
Cov ,.rXYVXVY, so that:
Cov(X1, Y1) = a'S12b, V(X1) = a'S11a,V(y1) = a'S22b, in
S11 = p × p matrix of covariances between the traits of
group I;
S22 = q × q matrix of covariances between the traits of
group II;
S12 = p × q matrix of covariances between the traits of
groups I and II.
2.2. Path Analysis
Path analysis consisted of studying the direct and indirect
effects of the abovementioned explanatory variables (X)
on the dependent variable passion fruit pulp color (Y).
Because Y is regarded as a complex characteristic, re-
sulting from combined action by other traits, it is possi-
ble to establish the following model:
Y = β1×1 + β2×2 + ... + βn×n + ε, in which: X1, X2, ..., Xn
are the explanatory variables, and Y is the core variable
(or dependent variable). The direct and indirect effects of
the explanatory variables were on the core variable were
estimated. Thus: , in that:
rp pr
riy: correlation between the main variable (y) and the ith
explanatory variable;
pi: measurement of the direct effect of variable i on the
main variable; and
pjrij: measurement of the indirect effect of variable i,
via variable j, on the main variable.
2.3. Statistical Analyses
The methodology described by [13] and Genes software
application [14] version 2009, were used for all biometric
3. Results and Discussion
3.1. Canonical Correlations
An absence of collinearity was observed between the
analyzed characteristics by diagnosing multicollinearity,
as per [8]. Thus, it became possible to perform canonical
analyses. The presence of collinearity, resulting from
correlations between the analyzed characteristics, makes
results less precise in canonical correlation analyses [15].
Analyzing the data in Table 3, it was possible to ob-
serve that all three canonical correlations were significant
by Chi-square test at 1% probability. This demonstrates
that all three trait groups are related to one another in a
dependent manner [13]. With regard to the first canonical
pair, it was demonstrated that genotypes of the passion
fruit plant that needed more days until anthesis yielded
less in the first flowering, produced larger fruits (length
and equatorial diameter) with lighter pulp weight. There-
fore, in this population under study, lower-yielding
genotypes were late in production as well.
With regard to the second canonical pair, it was de-
tected that fruits with higher content of total soluble sol-
ids tend to have a more rounded shape, showing greater
equatorial diameter and shorter length (Table 3). In order
to find out the canonical correlations between yellow
passion fruit characteristics, Viana et al. [16] observed
that, in general, individuals with larger fruits had higher
TSS levels, corroborating the results of our study.
Akamine and Girolami [17] and Albuquerque et al. [18]
Genetic Correlation between Agronomically Important Traits in Yellow Passion Fruit 2115
Table 3. Canonical correlationsandcanonical pairs estimated between primary (Group I) and secondary (Group II)
components with regard to the characteristics ofyellow passion fruit. Viçosa, 2006.
Canonical Pairs
Groups Characteristics
1st 2
nd 3
NA 0.0908 0.5275 0.8637
DAF 0.9481 0.1052 0.3330
TSS 0.2405 0.8933 0.3946
YFF 0.7566 0.4476 0.1777
PW 0.0603 0.4411 1.2147
FL 0.5557 0.9377 0.9195
ED 0.5533 0.9044 0.1321
R 0.8583** 0.6264** 0.4989**
**Significant by Chi-square test at 1% probability. Group I: (NA) number of mites, (DUA) days until anthesis, and (TSS) content of total soluble solids (˚Brix).
Group II: (YFF) yield of first flowering (g/plot (21 m2)), (PW) pulp weight (g), (ED) equatorial diameter and (FL) fruit length (mm).
detected correlations between juice percentage and pulp
weight, respectively, with both diameter and fruit length.
Ferreira et al. [19] and Oliveira [20] also observed a
stronger correlation between fruit equatorial diameter
and fruit weight that that between fruit length and weight
in yellow passion fruit plant. Negreiros et al. [21] con-
cluded that these correlations are important, as they indi-
cate that plants with heavier fruits can be selected by
measuring the equatorial diameter of fruits, still in the
field, eliminating the need to weigh them, which could
significantly facilitate selection procedures.
Still according to Negreiros et al. [21], selection of
oval-shaped fruits, although justifiable due to market
demand, should not be applied with the objective of in-
creasing pulp yield, given that the effect of the equatorial
diameter is greater than that of length in pulp yield and in
the mass of the fruit and pulp alike.
Attempting to evaluate the degree of association be-
tween economically important characteristics of yellow
passion fruit population, Gonçalves et al. [22] detected
through estimation of the phenotypic and additive genetic
coefficients that the trait number of fruits per plant was
negatively associated with fruit weight, length and width,
and positively associated with peel thickness. Moreover,
fruit weight showed phenotypic and additive genetic
correlations with all other characteristics, except number
of fruits per plant. Thus, according to those authors, an
increase in fruit size can result in lower production in the
numbers of fruits, so that more elaborate breeding meth-
ods may be required in order to obtain a high-yielding
population and fruits with more commercially acceptable
Analyzing the third canonical pair, it was observed
that a higher natural incidence of spider mites resulted in
reduced productivity of the first flowering and smaller
fruit length. However, there was a positive association
between mite incidence and pulp weight and equatorial
width of fruits (Table 3). There are currently no chemi-
cal products registered for passion fruit crops by Brazil’s
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply
(MAPA) to control mites. Some references found in the
literature regarding the use of acaricides in passion fruit
plants are based on experimental results. For this study, it
can be argued that the reduced fruit length dos fruits and
greater pulp weight led to a higher number of mites.
More in-depth studies are suggested in order to deter-
mine whether fruits with higher juice yield are also more
susceptible to mites. Currently, chemical control is most
common, but is also more problematic as mites are
highly capable of developing resistance against several
groups of acaricides, according to reports by Maruyama
et al. [23]. Within this context, the gain obtained by se-
lecting families of passion fruit plant that combine pro-
ductivity and lower economic losses from mite attacks
can be most valuable.
3.2. Path Analysis
The estimations of the direct and indirect effects of the
primary qualitative components on passion fruit matur-
ity are represented in Table 4 . It is seen that total soluble
solids content, TSS, showed a direct positive effect with
regard to the core variable (pulp color), making it clear
that more intense pulp color is also characterized by
higher TSS contents.
Correlation coefficients are unfolded by path analysis,
developed by Wright [24,25] and in greater detail by Li
[26]. Although a correlation is intrinsic to two traits in a
given experimental condition, in studies its decomposi-
tion is dependent on the set of traits. In cases where a
single causal model is considered, path analysis is merely
the standardized partial regression analysis, useful in
unfolding correlation coefficients into direct and indirect
effects [13].
Ina study on the association between productive traits
Open Access AJPS
Genetic Correlation between Agronomically Important Traits in Yellow Passion Fruit
of the passion fruit plant, Albuquerque [27] detected that
it can be concluded from the evaluation of simple and
partial correlations simples and from path analysis that it
is possible to achieve gains in fruit weight through indi-
rect selection on fruit length and diameter and on pulp
weight. This confirms the usefulness of studies on the
correlations between characteristics of yellow passion
Viana et al. [16] studied the simple and canonical cor-
relations between yellow passion fruit characteristics,
evaluating five morphological traits related to fruit pro-
duction (number of fruits per plant, fruit weight, fruit
length, fruit width and peel thickness) and three fruit-
quality traits (degrees Brix, acidity and percentage of
juice), detecting the existence of significant positive ge-
netic correlations, in both environments, between fruit
weight and width, fruit width and length, fruit acidity and
width, and a negative correlation between degree Brix
and fruit length.
Pulp color score has a direct positive effect on fruit
maturity, showing that the riper the fruit, the more in-
tensely orange was pulp color. The variable base (pulp
color) showed a high negative correlation with pulp acid-
Table 4. Direct and indirect effects of primary qualitative
components with regard to passion fr uit pulp color.
Characteristic Effect Estimation
Direct on Pulp color 0.8184
Indirect via FM 0.0744
Indirect via TTA 0.5115
Indirect via TSS/TTA 0.7657
Total 0.9982
Direct on Pulp color 0.7683
Indirect via TSS 0.0747
Indirect via TTA 0.5092
Indirect via TSS/TTA 0.8090
Total 0.9933
Direct on Pulp color 0.5084
Indirect via TSS 0.7703
Indirect via FM 0.8071
Indirect via TSS/TTA 0.0745
Total 0.9943
Direct on Pulp color 0.8224
Indirect via TSS 0.7559
Indirect via FM 0.0735
Indirect via TTA 0.5090
Total 0.9958
CoefficientofDetermination: 1.00. Residual Variable Effect: 0.00
(FM) fruit maturity, (TTA) total titrimetric acidity, (TSS) total soluble solids
(˚Brix) and (TSS/TTA) ratio between TSS and TTA.
ity, and a positive correlation with the ratio between the
content of total soluble solids and total titrimetric acidity
(TSS/TTA), demonstrating that fruits with more intense
pulp were also more acidic and had a higher TSS/TTA
The ratio between the content of total soluble solids
and total titrimetric acidity was the main determinant of
pulp color of passion fruit, in the present study. Thus, it
is possible to achieve gains in the ratio between the con-
tent of total soluble solids and total titrimetric acidity
(TSS/TTA) through direct selection for pulp color. Ac-
cording to Vangdal [28], the TSS/TTA ratio must be
considered as an indicator of fruit palatability, meaning
that a high ratio between these traits is highly important,
especially for the juice industry.
4. Conclusions
Lower-yielding and smaller passion fruit plant genotypes
are characterized by requiring more days until anthesis.
More rounded fruits show higher content of total solu-
ble solids.
The ratio between the content of total soluble solids
and total titrimetric acidity was the main determinant of
passion fruit pulp color.
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