The generation time (0.75 to 1.5 years) in perennial, hexaploid chrysanthemums [Dendranthema grandiflora Tzvelv. (Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat.)] impedes the rate of progress for sexual breeding programs in creating new clonal cultivars, inbred lines for hybrid seed production, and genetic studies. Modifications to the crossing environment and embryo rescue were evaluated to minimize the chrysanthemum generation cycle. One greenhouse chrysanthemum clone was outcross-pollinated using a bulk pollen source. Following emasculation, inflorescences were either left in situ or the peduncle bases were placed in styrofoam boards floating on a solution of 1% sucrose and 200 ppm 8-HQC under laboratory conditions. Embryogenesis occurred at a faster rate under laboratory conditions as tested with histological techniques; the heart stage appeared as early as the second day after pollination, compared with 11 days using in situ methods. Total embryogenic development time ranged from 25 (laboratory seed development) to 52+ days (in situ ripening). In a second test, embryo rescue (ER) significantly improved percent seed set, percent germination, and percent of progeny reaching anthesis relative to normal development. ER progeny from both garden parents were significantly earlier in total generation time than corresponding non-ER siblings. Laboratory seed development and ER were then used sequentially to obtain an average progeny generation time of =100 days, thus allowing for three generations per year. The potential impact of these two techniques on breeding chrysanthemums and other perennial crops with long generation times is discussed.
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