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International Journal of Plant Genomics
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 984521, 4 pages
Research Article

Estimating the Broad-Sense Heritability of Early Growth of Cowpea

1John W. North High School, 1550 Third Street, Riverside, CA 92507, USA
2Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

Received 4 March 2009; Accepted 28 April 2009

Academic Editor: Yunbi Xu

Copyright © 2009 Nicole W. Xu 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.


Cowpea is an important tropical crop. It provides a large proportion of the food resource for the African human population and their livestock. The yield and quality of cowpea have been dramatically improved through traditional breeding strategies for the past few decades. However, reports of heritability estimates for early growth of cowpea are rare. We designed a simple experiment to estimate the broad-sense heritability of early growth. We randomly selected 15 cowpea varieties among a total of 5000 cowpea accessions maintained in the cowpea breeding facility at the University of California, Riverside to examine the genetic determination of early growth of cowpea (measured as the height at day five after seeding). The estimated broad-sense heritability on the individual plant basis is 0.2190. However, the corresponding estimate on the plant mean basis (average of four plants) is 0.5198, which is very high for a quantitative trait. The high heritability may explain why traditional breeding for cowpea growth is so effective. Since the design of experiment and method of data analysis are novel, this report can serve as an educational note for students in the area of quantitative genetics and plant breeding.