Healthy, Precocious, and Fertile Hybrids Obtained from Microcitrus spp. (Citrus ichangensis)

in HortScience
Author: Kim D. Bowman1
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  • 1 USDA, ARS, USHRL, 2120 Camden Rd., Orlando, FL 32803

Microcitrus is one of five genera that are partially sexually cross-compatible with the genus Citrus. The genus Microcitrus contains seven species with characteristics that may be valuable for breeding citrus scions and rootstocks, including zygotic embryony, short juvenile period, short fruit maturation time, and resistance to nematodes and Phytophthora. However, relatively few F1 hybrids between Microcitrus and Citrus have been reported, and most of these have been pollen- and ovule-sterile. Some of these intergeneric hybrids have also been highly susceptible to cold damage. To create a genetic bridge for recombination of useful traits from Microcitrus into Citrus, two selections of Citrus ichangensis (an exceptionally cold hardy species with zygotic embryony and short juvenile period) were hybridized with Microcitrus warburgiana and two selections of Microcitrus inodora. Seed were collected from these crosses and germinated in a warm greenhouse. A total of 94 M. inodora xC. ichangensis hybrids and 34 M. warburgiana xC. ichangensis hybrids) were obtained and transplanted to 4-gallon pots in a screenhouse. At 33 months after planting the seed, 42% of the M. inodora × C. ichangensis hybrids and 67% of the M. warburgiana × C. ichangensis hybrids had flowered. Pollen germination tests on agar plates indicated that several hybrids produced large quantities of viable pollen. Numerous crosses were completed using some of these F1 hybrids as pollen and seed parents. Several F1 hybrids were confirmed to be highly fertile by recovery of healthy F2 and backcross hybrids with Microcitrus sp., Citrus sp., Poncirus trifoliata, and other Microcitrus (C. ichangensis) selections.

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