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  • Author or Editor: Michael J. Havey x
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Cytoplasmic-genic male sterility (CMS) is used to produce hybrid onion seed. For the most widely used source of CMS in onion, male sterility is conditioned by the interaction of sterile (S) cytoplasm and the homozygous recessive genotype at a single nuclear male-fertility restoration locus (Ms). Maintainer lines used to seed-propagate male-sterile lines possess normal fertile (N) cytoplasm and the homozyous recessive genotype at the Ms locus. Presently, it takes 4 to 8 years to establish if maintainer lines can be extracted from an uncharacterized population or family. We previously developed a PCR marker useful to distinguish N and S cytoplasms of onion. To tag the nuclear male-fertility restoration locus (Ms), we evaluated segregation at Ms over at least three environments. Segregations of AFLPs, RAPDs, and RFLPs revealed molecular markers flanking the Ms locus. We are working to convert these linked molecular markers to nonradioactive PCR-based detection. The organellar and nuclear markers were used to select plants from open-pollinated onion populations and determine if the number of test-crosses required to identify maintaining genotypes.

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The production of hybrid-onion seed depends on cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS) systems. The male-sterile line is seed propagated using a normal (N) cytoplasmic maintainer line homozygous recessive at the nuclear male-fertility restoration locus (MS). Because of onion's biennial generation time, 4 to 8 years are required to establish the genotype at the MS locus. The development of maintainer lines would benefit greatly from a genetic marker linked to the MS locus. Such a marker would allow breeders to establish the nuclear genotype in seedlings and flower only those plants that are maintainers (N msms) or plants that can be used to develop maintainers (N MSms), reducing the number of plants to be testcrossed or backcrossed to a sterile line. We evaluated restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs), random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPDs), and amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) to tag the chromosome region carrying the MS locus. No RAPDs or RFLPs cosegregated with MS. AFLP markers were identified that phenotypically correlated with restoration of male fertility.

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The genus Allium contains about 500 species, several of which have been cultivated for millennia. Despite its long history of cultivation and its worldwide economic importance, little is known phylogenetically about Allium. Identification of the likely progenitor of A. cepa (the bulb onion) will focus future collection efforts on wild germplasm that may be useful in the genetic improvement of the bulb onion. Several classification schemes based on morphological characteristics have been proposed for A. cepa and its presumed closest relatives. None of these schemes has been definitive. Nuclear restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) were identified among Allium species in sections Cepa and Phyllodolon. These were used to unbiasedly estimate phylogenetic relationships.

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Seed of hybrid onion (Allium cepa L.) is produced using cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS). For the most widely used source of onion CMS, male sterility is conditioned by the interaction of male sterile (S) cytoplasm and the homozygous recessive genotype at the nuclear male fertility locus Ms. Because of the biennial generation time of onion, classical crossing and segregation analyses take years to establish cytoplasms and genotypes at Ms. Numerous molecular markers have been developed to distinguish onion cytoplasms and estimate genotypes at Ms. Two nuclear markers (jnurf13 and AcPms1) have been reported to cosegregate with Ms and correctly predict genotypes in commercial breeding lines and diverse onion germplasm; however, these markers were less predictive for open-pollinated (OP) populations from India. We evaluated the efficacy of jnurf13 and AcPms1 to correctly classify genotypes at Ms using 144 random plants from three OP populations of long-day onion from North America. No recombination events were detected between AcPms1 and the Ms locus and three events occurred between jnurf13 and Ms. Our results support either marker as a useful tool to predict genotypes at Ms in North American populations of onion, with AcPms1 being the better of the two.

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Scab (caused by Cladosporium cucumerinum Ell. & Arth.) is an important disease of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), and the only source of resistance traces back to the cultivar Maine No. 2. We inoculated hypocotyls of 188 cucumber accessions with one strain of the scab fungus to identify other sources of scab resistance. Accessions NSL5731, 255933, 264666, 264667, 306785, 342951, 354952, 458845, and 535881 showed no symptoms. Plants in accession 525075 showed a continuous phenotypic distribution for reaction to scab; all other accessions were susceptible.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, announces the release of onion inbred ‘B8667 A&B’ and synthetic population ‘Sapporo-Ki (SKI) -1 A&B’. Both of these releases represent a cytoplasmic male-sterile (A) line with its maintainer (B) for seed propagation of male-sterile plants. ‘B8667 A&B’ is intended for production of red, long-day, well-storing hybrids. ‘SKI-1’ combines the earliness of the Japanese population ‘Sapporo-Ki’ with maintenance of cytoplasmic male sterility. The long-day synthetic population ‘Onion Haploid-1’ (‘OH-1’) is a joint release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. ‘OH-1’ is intended to serve as a responsive control for extraction of gynogenic haploids of onion.

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Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped using a high-density array and DNAs from individual plants of important onion (Allium cepa L.) populations from major production regions and from the likely progenitor of onion, Allium vavilovii Popov et Vved. Genotypes at 1226 SNPs were used to estimate genetic relationships among these populations and revealed close associations among onions grown in Europe and those in North America, South America, and eastern Asia, supporting paths of introduction from Europe to the Americas and Asia. ‘Nasik Red’ is a population grown on the Indian subcontinent and was divergent from onions of European origin. Frequencies of SNPs among and within populations were used as a measure of informativeness, and 199 commonly polymorphic SNPs were identified distributed across the eight chromosomes of onion. These SNPs will be useful for estimations of relatedness among broader collections of onion populations, mapping of important phenotypes, fingerprinting of inbred lines and hybrids, and quality control of seed lots.

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Hybrid onion (Allium cepa) seed is produced using cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS). For the most commonly used source of onion CMS, male fertile plants possess male sterile (S) cytoplasm and dominant allele(s) at one nuclear male fertility locus (Ms). Because male fertility restoration is not necessary for bulb production, it is desirable to purge dominant alleles at Ms from populations and breeding lines to facilitate the development of male sterile inbreds for hybrid production. In this research, we used molecular markers to establish the cytoplasms and genotypes at Ms in progenies from testcrosses of male sterile lines with plants from three populations [B2354, Ailsa Craig (AC), and Sapporo-Ki (Ski)] possessing the dominant Ms allele. We scored male fertility of testcross progenies by visual examination of flowers and acetocarmine staining of pollen. Different sources of the dominant Ms allele showed significantly different amounts of male fertility restoration and proportions of stainable pollen, complicating visual selection against the dominant Ms allele. For AC and Ski, molecular markers correctly predicted male sterility vs. male fertility of progenies in the greenhouse and field. However, for B2354, male fertility restoration was less clear and especially difficult to score under field conditions, consistent with reduced penetrance of male fertility restoration for this source of the dominant Ms allele. These results will be of interest to onion breeders selecting S-cytoplasmic male sterile lines for hybrid onion development.

Open Access

Onion (Allium cepa) plants with lower amounts of epicuticular waxes on foliage suffer less damage from the insect pest Thrips tabaci (onion thrips). Glossy onion accumulates significantly less epicuticular wax compared with wild-type “waxy” onion, and a single recessive locus (gl) has been proposed to condition this phenotype. Genetic analyses of types and amounts of epicuticular waxes were completed using two segregating families from the cross of the glossy inbreds B9885 and B9897 (both originally selected from the onion cultivar White Persian) with waxy inbred B8667 and semiglossy (intermediate amounts of waxes) inbred B5351, respectively. F2 progenies were grown in greenhouses and scored visually for foliar phenotypes, and amounts and types of epicuticular waxes were determined using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). For one F2 family from the cross of glossy B9885 by waxy B8667, visually scored glossy vs. waxy foliage fit a 1:3 ratio and the phenotype mapped to chromosome 8 of onion. This same region on chromosome 8 was significantly associated with amounts of the ketone hentriacontanone-16 (H16) and fatty alcohols 1-octacosanol (Oct1) and 1-triacontanol (Tri1). Visually scored F2 progeny from the cross of glossy B9897 × semiglossy B5351 did not fit expected models for one or two recessive loci. Significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) were revealed on chromosomes 5 and 8 controlling amounts of H16. Epistasis was detected between regions on chromosomes 1 and 8, and a 100-fold increase of H16 was conditioned by homozygous genotypes for the B5351 region on chromosome 1 and the B9885 region on chromosome 8. The three QTL model explained 41% of the phenotypic variation for amounts of H16 at logarithm of odds of 16.6. Amounts of Oct1 and Tri1 in the B9897 × B5351 family were associated with a major QTL on chromosome 1, explaining 37% to 46% of the phenotypic variation, respectively. This research demonstrates that glossy foliage of ‘White Persian’ onion is conditioned by a recessive locus on chromosome 8 for which we propose the name gl wp . These results are important for selection of onion with unique profiles of epicuticular waxes to reduce losses resulting from onion thrips.

Open Access