Occurrence and Physiological Breakdown of Self-incompatibility in Easter Cactus

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, French Hall, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003

The existence of self-incompatibility (SI) was demonstrated in `Britton' and `Rose' Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis). In a full diallel cross among five clones, 18 out of 20 outcrosses resulted in 68% to 100% fruit set, whereas reciprocal crosses between two of the clones and all five self-pollinations failed to set fruit. Pollen tube growth was greatly inhibited in styles of selfed pistils, but there was no evidence of pollen tube inhibition in compatibly crossed pistils. Easter cactus exhibited characteristics typically found in sporophytic SI systems (trinucleate pollen, papillate stigmas, and scant stigmatic exudate) together with those associated with gametophytic SI systems (stylar inhibition of pollen tube growth and absence of reciprocal differences in outcrosses). Additional experiments were performed to determine the effects of bud pollinations, growth regulators (BA, GA3, and NAAm), and high temperatures (0- to 48-h exposure at 40C) on the SI response. Heat treatments were more effective than either bud pollinations or growth regulators in overcoming SI, and yielded an average of 7.2 viable seeds per treated flower when plants were incubated for 12 h at 40C and selfed immediately after incubation. Isozyme analysis of the S0 parent and putative S1 progeny confirmed that selfing had occurred following heat treatments. Using S1 progeny in breeding programs may extend the flower color range and lead to a greater diversity in other plant characteristics than presently exists in cultivated germplasm. Chemical names used: N-(phenylmethyl)-1H-purin-6-amine [benzyladenine (BA)], gibberellic acid (GA3), and α-naphthaleneacetamide (NAAm).

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