Solanum ochranthum Dunal is a nontuber bearing wild relative of the cultivated tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), and a potential source of new genes for disease and pest resistance. Because S. ochranthum is sexually isolated from tomato, somatic hybrids between tomato (PI 367942; L. esculentum Mill. var. cerasiforme (Dunal) A. Gray VFNT cherry × L. peruvianum (L.) Mill. backcrossed to VFNT cherry) and S. ochranthum (LA2117) were developed previously to overcome these crossing barriers. Attempts to backcross these hybrids to tomato have been unsuccessful. Pollen fertility and mitotic and meiotic studies in tomato + S. ochranthum somatic hybrids determined the cause of the sterility of the somatic hybrids and identified hybrids with moderate fertility. Chromosome counts of dividing root tip cells delineated tetraploid (2n = 4x = 48) and hexaploid (2n = 6x = 72) genotypes and aneuploidy in these hybrids. Meiotic analysis of developing microspores confirmed the presence of precocious division and laggard chromosomes at anaphase in both hexaploid and tetraploid hybrids. Bridges were observed in hexaploids at anaphase I and II and multivalent configurations were observed at diakinesis. Multivalents and univalents were evident in nearly all cells examined, proving that the two genomes are homoeologous. Aberrant microsporocytes with five to six developing microspores were noted in hexaploid hybrids. The occurrence of homoeologous pairing between chromosomes of both fusion parents is advantageous to effect recombination between these isolated species. However, the negative effects of multivalent formation and univalents likely contributed to observed sterility in these first generation fusion hybrids. Low to moderate levels of pollen fertility (0% to 52%) were found in tetraploid hybrids, while little or no viable pollen (0% to 4%) was observed in hexaploid somatic hybrids.
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