Iron and zinc are micronutrients essential to the human diet but are in deficient supply to many in the tropics. Fortifying the micronutrient content of staple crops like sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] would go far in alleviating this intractable problem. This article presents estimates of broad-sense heritability for iron and zinc content in sweetpotato roots using a technique based on full-sibling families. Among individual genotypes, iron and zinc concentration varied by a fourfold and sixfold difference, respectively, whereas dry matter concentration showed a threefold variation. Family mean estimates varied significantly for the three traits. High broad-sense heritability for iron (H = 0.74), zinc (H = 0.82), and dry matter concentration (H = 0.93) were obtained among full-sibling families. These results suggest that traditional breeding strategies like mass selection could improve the micronutritional value of sweetpotato and that true sweetpotato seed, which has no international phytosanitary restrictions on transfer, can be used to quickly estimate heritability.
HortScience (2008) 43 (5) 1382-1384