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Investigation of pollen competition between wild and cultivated sorghums (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) using simple sequence repeats markers

Abstract

In self-compatible plant species stigmata receive a mixture of self and outcrossed pollen and competition between them is expected to play a major role in determining the pollen-mediated gene flow. The use of male sterile bait plants in field trials to demonstrate the rate of gene flow is questionable due to lack of pollination competition. However, little direct evidence has been published. A field experiment of male sterile and male fertile sorghum pollen recipient bait plants was conducted to evaluate pollen competition between wild and cultivated sorghums and the effects of pollen competition on gene flow assessment. Pollen competition between wild and cultivated sorghums was estimated from two-component pollen mixtures of wild and cultivated sorghum (1:1 ratio) applied to wild, cultivated and male-sterile maternal bait plants. Paternity was determined in the progeny using two diagnostic Simple Sequence Repeat markers. The study found that self pollen has higher seed-siring success. Maternal genotype influences the siring ability of the pollen donor components which significantly deviated from the 1:1 pollen loads. The study showed that published estimates of gene flow derived from studies using male-sterile bait plants seriously overestimate gene flow and that pollen competition may be a significant factor influencing outcrossing rates. The results suggest that the predominant direction of gene flow is from cultivated to wild sorghum, potentially leading to introgression of crop genes into wild sorghum. Pollen competition should be taken into account in gene flow estimation, since presence of self-pollen can account for over half of seed produced irrespective of maternal genotype.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Biotechnology and Biodversity Interface Program (BBI; Dr. Fabrice Sagnard), the Institute of plant Breeding and Population Genetics at the University of Hohenheim, Germany, and Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD: A0523923). We are grateful to Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and Mr. Ben Kanyenji who supervised the field experiments.

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Correspondence to Moses M. Muraya.

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Muraya, M.M., Geiger, H.H., de Villiers, S. et al. Investigation of pollen competition between wild and cultivated sorghums (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) using simple sequence repeats markers. Euphytica 178, 393–401 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10681-010-0319-4

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Keywords

  • Sorghum bicolor
  • Pollen competition
  • Outcross pollen
  • Self pollen
  • Pollination
  • Pollen-mediated gene flow