Embryo Rescue Techniques to Generate Variation in Citrus Crops

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  • 1 Univ. of Florida, IFAS, Citrus Research and Education Center, Lake Alfred, FL 33850

Although no longer as glamorous as it was a few decades past, the routine application of embryo rescue techniques, leading to plant recovery, is a valuable tool for citrus cultivar improvement. Embryo rescue approaches can be used to generate useful variation or to capture various kinds of spontaneous genetic variation. Embryo rescue, by in vitro culture of undeveloped, and presumably unfertilized, ovules in colchicine-supplemented media is a practical method of producing tetraploid clones, which are used then in crosses with diploids to produce seedless triploid hybrids. This same approach, i.e., in vitro culture of undeveloped ovules, is also used to recover plants from chimeric sectored fruit exhibiting economically important mutations for fruit characteristics, and for producing potentially variant somaclones. Seedlessness is an important objective for fresh citrus fruit cultivar improvement, and triploidy following 2x × 4x hybridizations is one approach being exploited for this objective. When monoembryonic diploid seed parents are crossed with tetraploid pollen parents, however, normal seed development is not usually possible. Embryos must be excised from abortive seeds fairly early in development and cultured appropriately to ensure the recovery of sufficient numbers of 3x offspring from these crosses, to increase the likelihood of identifying superior seedless hybrids. These applications will be described in some detail, and progress toward breeding objectives are highlighted.

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