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Intergeneric pollen – megagametophyte relationships of conifers in vitro


 Germinating pollen from larch (Larix occidentalis), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and white pine (Pinus monticola) were co-cultured with megagametophytes dissected from cones of other genera (Pseudotsuga menziesii, Larix×eurolepis and Pinus monticola). Pollen was presented to megagametophytes possessing archegonia which were either alive, degenerating or dead. In addition, pollen was presented to fertilized megagametophytes and to megagametophytes that had been cut in half. Megagametophyte penetration by pollen tubes and male gamete release into archegonia were verified by serial sections of glycomethacrylate-embedded specimens. Pollen tubes penetrated through any part of the apex of the megagametophyte. Division of the body cell into the two gametes was regularly observed. Delivery of gametes was confirmed between spruce and larch. Pollen tubes also penetrated fertilized megagametophytes, dead or degenerating archegonia as well as wounded and/or cut surfaces. This demonstrates the inability of the male gametophyte to optimize its mating efforts, since it is unable to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy archegonia. The megagametophyte cells are unable to optimize male selection. They may produce secretions of a generally attractive nature, as pollen is attracted to the apex of the megagametophyte, but archegonia themselves do not produce pollen-specific signals of either a promotive or inhibitory nature. These results open new avenues for the development of novel breeding strategies where natural breeding barriers may be bypassed.

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Received: 19 March 1998 / Accepted: 29 April 1998

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Dumont-BéBoux, N., Weber, M., Ma, Y. et al. Intergeneric pollen – megagametophyte relationships of conifers in vitro. Theor Appl Genet 97, 881–887 (1998).

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  • Key words Conifers
  • In vitro fertilization
  • Intergeneric crosses
  • Prezygotic barriers
  • Gamete delivery