Toward Introgression of Ornamental Cucurbita Germplasm: Generation of C. maxima ×pepo hybrids

in HortScience

Cucurbita maxima and C. pepo are difficult to hybridize, and it was our objective to generate F1 hybrids between ornamental cultivars of the two species. C. maxima `Lakota' and C. pepo `Jack O'Lantern'; and `OZ'; were selected as parents. `Lakota' (L) is an heirloom, hubbard-type cultivar producing pear-shaped, red-orange fruit with dark green mottling, `Jack O'Lantern'; (J) is an open-pollinated Halloween-type pumpkin cultivar and `OZ' is a Halloween-type hybrid. Sixteen plants of each cultivar were greenhouse-grown in a CRB design during the period July-Sept. 2003. Interspecific crosses were made in both directions, with intraspecific crosses (J × O) and selfs (L) serving as controls. Fruits were harvested about 20 d after pollination. Embryos were excised under aseptic conditions and grown on either full strength Murashige and Skoog (MS) media with 6% sucrose (S6), full strength MS media with 6% maltose (M6), or half strength MS media with 3% sucrose (S3). Fruit set was generally greater in the intraspecific crosses (33%) and selfs (67%) than in the interspecific crosses (15 %), with the notable exception of the interspecific combination L × J (85% fruit set). Embryos of interspecific and control crosses were about 1.5mm and >1cm long, respectively. Hypocotyl and root growth 10 d after plating was better on S3 (3.2 and 1.7 cm) than on S6 (1.6 and 0.25 cm) or M6 (0.35 and 0 cm), and a greater number of functional hybrids were obtained from embryos grown on S3 (6 plants) than on S6 (2 plants) or M6 (2 plants). The interspecific plants were backcrossed to one of the parents and novel combinations of shape, color and variegation in hybrid fruit were observed.

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