MOLECULAR MARKERS FOR APOMIXIS IN Pennisetum

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, GA 31793-0748
  • 2 ZUSDA-ARS, University of Georgia Coastal Plain Experiment Station, Tifton, GA 31793-0748

Apomixis is asexual reproduction through seed. Apomixis in the genus Pennisetum is of the gametophytic (aposporous) type. Genes for apomixis have been transferred from a wild apomictic species (P. squamulatum) to pearl millet (P. glaucum) by conventional breeding to produce an obligately apomictic backcross 3 (BC3) plant (Dujardin and Hanna, 1989, J. Genet. Breed. 43:145). Molecular markers based on restriction fragment length polymorphisms and random amplified polymorphic DNAs were identified in BC3 that were shared only with the apomictic parent. Segregation of these informative markers in a BC4 population indicated that three linkage groups from P. squamulatum were present in BC3 and that minimal recombination between these alien chromosomes and those of the recurrent parent occurred. Transmission of only one of the linkage groups was required for transfer of apomixis. Recombination is essential for genetic mapping, thus we are beginning to map the informative molecular markers in an F, interspecific cross between pearl millet and P. squamulatum, a population that segregates for apomictic and sexual reproduction.

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