, Volume 174, Issue 2, pp 261-281
Date: 05 Mar 2010

Morphological, cytological and reproductive characterization of tri-species hybrids (GOS) between Pennisetum glaucum , P. orientale and P. squamulatum

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New tri-species hybrids (GOS) in the genus Pennisetum involving the cultivated species pearl millet (P. glaucum L.) and two wild species, viz. P. squamulatum Fresen and P. orientale L. C. Rich, are reported. Six hybrid plants were recovered after crossing a backcross hybrid (2n = 3x = 23, GGO) between P. glaucum (2n = 2x = 14, GG) and P. orientale (2n = 2x = 18, OO) with F1s (2n = 6x = 42, GGSSSS) between P. glaucum (2n = 4x = 28, GGGG) and P. squamulatum (2n = 8x = 56, SSSSSSSS). The hybrids were perennial, morphologically intermediate to their parents, and represented characters from the three contributing species. The hybrids contained 2n = 44 chromosomes (GGGSSO) representing 21, 14 and nine chromosomes from P. glaucum, P. squamulatum and P. orientale, respectively. Meiotic and flow-cytometric analysis suggested origin of these hybrids from unreduced female and reduced male gametes. Average chromosome configuration (8.42I + 14.32II + 1.62III + 0.52IV) at Meiosis showed limited inter-genomic pairing indicating absence of significant homology between the three genomes. The hybrids were male sterile (except one) and highly aposporous. P. orientale was identified to induce apospory in hybrid background with P. glaucum at diploid and above levels, though it was quantitatively affected by genomic doses from sexual parent. A case of inducible and recurrent apospory is presented whereby a transition from Polygonum-type sexual embryo-sacs to Panicum-type aposporous embryo-sacs was observed in diploid interspecific hybrids. Results supported independent origin and partitioning of the three apomixis-components (apomeiosis, parthenogenesis, and functional endosperm development), reported for the first time in Pennisetum. Potential utilization of GOS hybrids in understanding genome interactions involved in complex traits, such as perenniality and apomixis, is discussed.