Determining Ploidy Level and Nuclear DNA Content in Rubus by Flow Cytometry

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Authors: Rengong Meng1 and Chad Finn2
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97330
  • | 2 U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, HCRL, Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research, 3420 NW Orchard Avenue, Corvallis, OR 97330

Nuclear DNA flow cytometry was used to differentiate ploidy level and determine nuclear DNA content in Rubus. Nuclei suspensions were prepared from leaf discs of young leaves following published protocols with modifications. DNA was stained with propidium iodide. Measurement of fluorescence of 40 genotypes, whose published ploidy ranged from diploid to dodecaploid, indicated that fluorescence increased with an increase in chromosome number. Ploidy level accounted for 99% of the variation in fluorescence intensity (r2 = 0.99) and variation among ploidy levels was much higher than within ploidy levels. This protocol was used successfully for genotypes representing eight different Rubus subgenera. Rubus ursinus Cham. and Schldl., a native blackberry species in the Pacific Northwest, which has been reported to have 6x, 8x, 9x, 10x, 11x, and 12x forms, was extensively tested. Genotypes of R. ursinus were predominantly 12x, but 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x, 11x, and 13x forms were found as well. Attempts to confirm the 13x estimates with manual counts were unsuccessful. Ploidy level of 103 genotypes in the USDA-ARS breeding program was determined by flow cytometry. Flow cytometry confirmed that genotypes from crosses among 7x and 4x parents had chromosome numbers that must be the result of nonreduced gametes. This technique was effective in differentiating chromosome numbers differing by 1x, but was not able to differentiate aneuploids. Nuclear DNA contents of 21 diploid Rubus species from five subgenera were determined by flow cytometry. Idaeobatus, Chamaebatus, and Anaplobatus were significantly lower in DNA content than those of Rubus and Cylactis. In the Rubus subgenus, R. hispidus and R. canadensis had the lowest DNA content and R. sanctus had the highest DNA content, 0.59 and 0.75 pg, respectively. Idaeobatus had greater variation in DNA content among diploid species than the Rubus subgenus, with the highest being from R. ellipticus (0.69 pg) and lowest from R. illecebrosus (0.47 pg).

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