A Simple Method for Estimating Ploidy of in Vitro Watermelon Plantlets

in HortScience
Authors:
Michael E. ComptonCentral Florida Research and Education Center, Univ. of Florida, IFAS, 5336 University Ave., Leesburg, FL 34748-8232.

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J.W. HarrisCentral Florida Research and Education Center, Univ. of Florida, IFAS, 5336 University Ave., Leesburg, FL 34748-8232.

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D.J. GrayCentral Florida Research and Education Center, Univ. of Florida, IFAS, 5336 University Ave., Leesburg, FL 34748-8232.

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Ploidy of in vitro watermelon plantlets was estimated by painting the lower epidermis of leaves with fluorescein diacetate (FDA) and observing fluorescence of guard cell chloroplasts with a microscope and UV light. Leaves from shoot-tip cultures of known diploid and tetraploid cultivars were used to establish the mean number of chloroplasts per guard cell pair for in vitro plantlets. Leaves from diploid and tetraploid plantlets had 9.7 and 17.8 chloroplasts per guard cell pair, respectively. This method was used to estimate ploidy of shoots regenerated from cotyledon explants of the diploid cultivar Minilee. Approximately 10.6% of regenerated shoots were classified as tetraploid while still in vitro. Putative tetraploids were transplanted to the field and self-pollinated. A majority of polyploids identified in vitro were true breeding, nonchimeric tetraploids. This study demonstrate that FDA can be used to estimate ploidy of in vitro shoots of watermelon prior to acclimatization and transfer of plants to the greenhouse or field.

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