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Macrocystis mariculture in Chile: growth performance of heterosis genotype constructs under field conditions

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Recent progress in Macrocystis mariculture is based on clonal stock cultures of gametophyte parents. Batches of up to 105 genetically identical sporophyte seedlings can be produced at any time in the laboratory and explanted in the field for production of biomass. Sexual crosses of selected Macrocystis pyrifera gametophyte parents of different geographic origin along the coast of Chile showed heterosis and produced sporophyte batches with superior growth performance. Starting from zygotes, after 10 weeks in the laboratory and 5 months in the sea, our best hybrid genotypes grew up to 11 kg fresh weight per frond, which corresponds to 66 kg m−1 of line in a commercial mariculture installation. In contrast, average yields of 14.4 and 22 kg m−1 are reported in the literature for traditional methods. Additional experiments, including inter-specific crosses M. pyrifera × M. integrifolia and their performance in different climate zones of Chile, confirm that heterosis is a powerful tool for crop improvement in Macrocystis. It opens the possibility to construct tailor-made heterosis genotypes with maximum productivity and/or other desired properties for any given locality.

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This study was supported by FONDEF DO4I 1288 (CONICYT—CHILE). We thank the companies HIDROCULTIVOS S.A., HGUA S.A. and CERNAMAR for cooperation. L. Muñoz, A. Ruiz and C. Atero, Puerto Montt, contributed with field and laboratory activities, and H. Müller, Konstanz with art work. Thanks are also due to two anonymous reviewers who contributed valuable suggestions.

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Correspondence to Renato Westermeier.

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Westermeier, R., Patiño, D.J., Murúa, P. et al. Macrocystis mariculture in Chile: growth performance of heterosis genotype constructs under field conditions. J Appl Phycol 23, 819–825 (2011).

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