Thirty-seven kenaf (Hibiscus canabinus L.) genotypes (34 accessions and 3 variety) originated in different
parts of the world were studied in BJRI to assess genetic variation using morpho-agronomic traits. A total of
20 morpho-agronomic traits was selected for study and found that the genotypes varied significantly (p<0.01)
in these traits. The major production traits such as stick weight and fiber weights were found highly
correlated with other traits. Considerable ranges of variability were observed in stem colour, petiole colour,
stipule colour, plant technical height, base diameter, dry fiber weight and dry stick weight. Based on major
yield contributing characters accession 3569, 5027, 2048, and 5029 were better than other genotypes.
Key words: Kenaf genotypes, morpho-agronomic trait, genetic diversity, kenaf breeding program.
Kenaf (Hibiscus canabinus L.) is a traditional fiber producing plant belonging to the family Malvaceae. In
the present global environmental needs and inadequate green fiber resources, kenaf is a potential crop with
higher tensile strength fiber (Faruq et al., 2013) and because of lower production cost and labor
requirements it is now replacing jute plants traditionally used for fiber production (Golam et al., 2011). To
date, kenaf has been utilized for manufacturing various industrial products such as pulping and paper
making. Good quality kenaf fiber can be utilized for producing industrial filter and the core can be utilized
as a bio-remediation agent, animal bedding, and low-density particle board (Baldwin and Graham, 2006).
In order to expand its industrial use and maintain the economic viability, it is important to study the genetic
diversity of different kenaf genotypes for developing an effective breeding program that will yield high
fiber or stick (Bitzer et al., 2000). The widespread method to define the variability of kenaf is the study of
morpho-agronomic traits. Raw morphological properties play important roles to classify kenaf varieties.
However, defining the kenaf genotype by common traits such as plant height, leaf shape and maturity etc.
are sometimes difficult. For instance, morphological traits cannot be utilized in early selection of potential
kenaf genotypes. In addition, genetic variability detection using morphological traits is not worthy when
the target gene expression changes with environmental condition and plant development stages (Kalpana et
al., 2012). It is also important to define the circulating seeds in the market to secure farmer’s interest from
potential fraudulent admixtures (Cheng et al., 2002). Traditional genetic variation analysis was on
morphological and agronomical traits and due to the difficulty to identify cultivars based entirely on these
traits effective recently molecular technologies are introduced (Islam et al., 2014). For characterization of
genetic variation in plants certain molecular DNA based markers, such as RAPD, RFLP, AFLP and SSR
(Faruq et al. 2013) can be applied (Islam et al., 2014). At present a large number of germplasm are now
being maintained in the Gene Bank of Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI). There are 675
germplasms of kenaf of both indigenous and exotic sources in the Gene Bank of BJRI. The use of plant
genetic resources in breeding research is largely dependent on the available information of their genetic
variability. In this study thirty one accessions of kenaf germplasm received from different sources. This
study was, therefore, conducted to determine the genetic diversity in different kenaf genotypes of diverse
origin in tropical and sub-tropical environment of the World using morphological traits.