, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp 343-357
Date: 07 Sep 2010

Protoplast fusion for production of tetraploids and triploids: applications for scion and rootstock breeding in citrus

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Protoplast fusion technology has been utilized in many crops to generate allotetraploid somatic hybrids, and sometimes autotetraploids as a byproduct of the process. A brief history of this technology development is provided, along with a simple protocol developed for citrus, which can be easily adapted to other plants. Protoplast fusion has become a significant tool in ploidy manipulation that can be applied in various cultivar improvement schemes. In rare cases, a new somatic hybrid may have direct utility as an improved cultivar; however, the most important application of somatic hybridization is the building of novel germplasm as a source of elite breeding parents for various types of conventional crosses for both scion and rootstock improvement. Somatic hybridization is generating superior allotetraploid breeding parents for use in interploid crosses to generate seedless triploids. Seedlessness is a primary breeding objective for new fresh fruit citrus varieties, and several thousand triploid hybrids have been produced using somatic hybrids as the tetraploid parent. Protoplast fusion is also being utilized to produce somatic hybrids that combine complementary diploid rootstocks, which have shown good potential for tree size control. Tree size control has gained importance as a means of reducing harvesting costs, maximizing the efficiency of modern cold protection methodology, and facilitating the adaptation of new fruit production systems. Successful somatic hybridization in citrus rootstock improvement has enabled rootstock breeding at the tetraploid level via sexual hybridization, which can yield maximum genetic diversity in zygotic progeny upon which to impose selection for the many traits required in improved rootstock cultivars, including disease and insect resistance, broad adaptation, tree size control, and the ability to consistently produce high yields of quality fruit. Recent progress and successful examples of these applications are discussed. Finally, a discussion of the genetic potential of somatic hybrids as breeding parents, including meiotic behavior and inheritance is provided.