The production of doubled haploid plants is desirable as an alternative to sexual inbreeding of longer-generation crops. Onion (Allium cepa L.) is a biennial plant and amenable to the production of gynogenic haploids. Although a strong population effect has been observed for gynogenic haploid production, there is no report describing the genetic basis of greater haploid production in onion. We evaluated over years the frequency of haploid production among onion inbreds and identified lines showing significantly (P < 0.01) greater production of haploids. The onion inbreds, B0223B and B2923B, produced the highest mean frequencies of haploids so far reported. Hybrid families from crosses of B2923B with inbreds having relatively low haploid production showed significantly higher haploid production than the low-producing parent and significantly lower haploid production than B2923B. Plants from B0223B and B2923B with established rates of haploid production were testcrossed and/or self-pollinated. The F1 family from B1717A-1 × B2923B-3 showed rates of haploid production slightly greater than the low parent (B1717A-1) and significantly less than the high parent (B2923B-3). Self-pollination of plants from B2923B showing relatively high rates of haploid production generated S1 progenies also producing relatively high frequencies of haploids. Selfed progenies from plant B2923B-6 showed a high mean rate of haploid production (56.8% ± 14.5%) and, more importantly, the highest level of haploid production (82.2%) reported for any single onion plant. These results indicate that relatively high haploid production, at least for B2923B, was quantitatively inherited with dominance towards low production. We suggest S1 family selection as an effective method to increase gynogenic haploid production of onion populations.
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