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Cytogenetics of double cross hybrids between Pennisetum americanumP. purpureum amphiploids and P. americanum x Pennisetum squamulatum interspecific hybrids

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Pearl millet, Pennisetum americanum L. Leeke-napiergrass, Pennisetum purpureum Schum. amphiploids (2n=42) were crossed with pearl millet X Pennisetum squamulatum Fresen. interspecific hybrids (2n=41) to study the potential of germplasm transfer from wild Pennisetum species to pearl millet. These two interspecific hybrids were highly cross-compatible and more than two thousand trispecific progenies were produced from 17 double crosses. All doublecross hybrids were perennial and showed a wide range of morphological variations intermediate to both parents in vegetative and inflorescence characteristics. Some crosses resulted in sublethal progenies. Chromosomes paired mainly as bivalents (¯x15.88) or remained as univalents. At metaphase I, trivalents, quadrivalents, an occasional hexavalent and a high frequency of bivalents indicated some homeology among the genomes of the three species. Delayed separation of bivalents, unequal segregation of multivalents, lagging chromosomes, and chromatin bridges were observed at anaphase I. Although approximately 93% of the double-cross hybrids were male-sterile, pollen stainability in male-fertile plants ranged up to 94%. Seed set ranged from 0 to 37 seed per inflorescence in 71 plants under open-pollinated conditions. Apomictic embryo sac development was observed in double-cross progenies when crosses involved a pearl millet x P. squamulatum apomictic hybrid as pollen parent. These new double-cross hybrids may serve as ‘bridging hybrids’ to transfer genes controlling apomixis and other plant characteristics from the wild Pennisetum species to pearl millet.

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Correspondence to W. Hanna.

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Communicated by Å. Gustafsson

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Dujardin, M., Hanna, W. Cytogenetics of double cross hybrids between Pennisetum americanumP. purpureum amphiploids and P. americanum x Pennisetum squamulatum interspecific hybrids. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 69, 97–100 (1984).

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Key words

  • Interspecific hybrids
  • Pearl millet
  • Apomixis
  • Trispecific hybrids
  • Pennisetum