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Methods for induction and utilization of variability in the improvement of an apomictic grass, Dichanthium annulatum complex

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Summary

Many problems and difficulties are encountered in making genetic improvements in plants where both apomixis and polyploidy occur together. From biosystematic studies on an agamic species complex, Dichanthium annulatum, information is presented on: (A) Mechanisms which create variability in apomicts — (i) genome building and reduction, (ii) hybridization between ecotypes of facultative apomicts, (iii) fertilization of unreduced gametes, (iv) introgressive hybridization, (v) preferential pairing and genotypic control of bivalent formation and (vi) induced mutation; (B) Embryo-sac variations, vis-a-vis sexual/apomictic sacs — (i) production of sexual embryo-sac in apomicts, (ii) balance between apomixis and sexual process, (iii) effect of environment and experimental manipulation of the type of embryo-sac; and (C) Heterosis and fixation of apomixis.

The utilization and exploitation of these mechanisms and phenomena for accelerating the genetic improvement of apomictic plants is discussed.

Mating systems impose certain restrictions on the breeding methodology to be used in the genetic improvement of crop plants. Allogamous species have built-in mechanisms for self-improvement and, for them, the breeding techniques are well worked out. Little information is, however, available on the procedures to be followed for the genetic improvement of apomicts. Recently gathered information on the causal mechanisms of apomixis and its mode of inheritance, the genetic systems which regulate the balance between apomixis and sexuality, the physical and chemical agents for artificial induction of sexuality in apomicts, and the processes which promote variability and adaptive polymorphism in apomicts show a way for the creation, exploitation and fixation of superior genotypes. Such information, based on biosystematic studies on an agamic species complex, Dichanthium annulatum, at the Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, U.S.A., is presented here.

Breeding procedures commonly followed for the genetic improvement of apomicts are outlined below:

1. Collection of varieties, strains or ecotypes from diverse sources; 2. Evaluation of the germ plasm for the presence of desirable characters; 3. Building up of selection indices and estimation of genetic parameters; 4. Determination of mode of reproduction and isolation of sexual types or clones; 5. Hybridization using the sexual types; 6. Progeny testing, comparisons, multiplication and release of superior types.

Thus, the success of the breeding programme would depend on the range of variability already present in the germ plasm collections, the relative proportion of sexual/apomictic seed produced and the exploitation of variability from the crossbred progenies. Since large collections of plants with different genotypes are not often available, one would like to look for the mechanisms which can create variability in the apomicts. Such mechanisms are as follows.

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Communicated by H. Kihara

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Singh, A.P., Mehra, K.L. Methods for induction and utilization of variability in the improvement of an apomictic grass, Dichanthium annulatum complex. Theoret. Appl. Genetics 41, 259–262 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00277795

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Keywords

  • Genetic Improvement
  • Germ Plasm Collection
  • Selection Index
  • Progeny Testing
  • Germ Plasm