Seed Yield, Floral Morphology, and Lack of Male-fertility Restoration of Male-sterile Onion (Allium cepa) Populations Possessing the Cytoplasm of Allium galanthum

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Author: M.J. Havey1
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  • 1 Vegetable Crops Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

The primary source (S cytoplasm) of cytoplasmic-genic male sterility (CMS) used to produce hybrid-onion (Allium cepa L.) seed traces back to a single plant identified in 1925 in Davis, California. Many open-pollinated populations also possess this cytoplasm, creating an undesirable state of cytoplasmic uniformity. Transfer of cytoplasms from related species into cultivated populations may produce new sources of CMS. In an attempt to diversify the cytoplasms conditioning male sterility, the cytoplasm of Allium galanthum Kar. et Kir. was backcrossed for seven generations to bulb-onion populations. The flowers of galanthum-cytoplasmic populations possess upwardly curved perianth and filaments with no anthers, making identification of male-sterile plants easier than for either S- or T-cytoplasmic male-sterile onion plants. Mean seed yield per bulb of the galanthum-cytoplasmic populations was measured in cages using blue-bottle flies (Calliphora erythrocephala Meig.) as pollinators and was not significantly different from one of two S-cytoplasmic male-sterile F1 lines, a T-cytoplasmic male-sterile inbred line, or N-cytoplasmic male-fertile lines. Male-sterile lines possessing either the S or galanthum cytoplasm were each crossed with populations known to be homozygous dominant and recessive at the nuclear locus conditioning male-fertility restoration of S cytoplasm and progenies were scored for male-fertility restoration. Nuclear restorers of male fertility for S cytoplasm did not condition male fertility for the galanthum-cytoplasmic populations. It is intended that these galanthum-cytoplasmic onion populations be used as an alternative male-sterile cytoplasm for the diversification of hybrid onion seed production.

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