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Janice R. Bohac, Alfred Jones and Daniel F. Austin

Previous work in this laboratory identified high levels of unreduced (2n) pollen in the tetraploid (4×) Ipomoea spp. Acc. 81.2. This work provided indirect evidence that 2n pollen was involved in the evolution of the 6x ploidy level of the cultivated sweetpotato (I. batatas). To further study the role of 2n pollen in sweetpotato evolution, we examined plants of Acc. 81.2. plants of five sweetpotato cultivars, and 100 randomly selected heterozygous sweetpotato seedlings. The 4× Acc. 81.2 was determined to be I. batatas. High levels of large 2n pollen were confirmed in Acc. 81.2, and low levels of 2n pollen were observed in `Sulfur' and in 16% of the sweetpotato seedlings. Presence of monad, dyad, and triad sporads confirmed that the large 2n pollen grains were the result of nonreduction in the sporad stage. These new findings are direct evidence that 2n pollen was involved in the evolution of the 6× ploidy level of sweetpotato. This is the first report of a 4× accession classified as I. batatas; it is also the first report of 2n pollen in 6× I. batatas The widespread presence of 2n pollen in sweetpotato suggests that the trait can be used to advantage in breeding programs to introgress genes from wild 4× Ipomoea spp. into cultivated 6× sweetpotato without adverse effects on genetic stability or fertility.

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Sriyani Rajapakse, Janice Ryan-Bohac, Sasanda Nilmalgoda, Robert Ballard and Daniel F. Austin

The sweet potato Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. is classified in series Batatas (Choisy) in Convolvulaceae, with 12 other species and an interspecific true hybrid. The phylogenetic relationships of a sweetpotato cultivar and 13 accessions of Ipomoeas in the series Batatas were investigated using the nucleotide sequence variation of the nuclear-encoded β-amylase gene. First, flowers were examined to identify the species, and DNA flow cytometry used to determine their ploidy. The sweetpotato accession was confirmed as a hexaploid, I. tabascana a tetraploid, and all other species were diploids. A 1.1–1.3 kb fragment of the β-amylase gene spanning two exons separated by a long intron was PCR-amplified, cloned, and sequenced. Exon sequences were highly conserved, while the intron yielded large sequence differences. Intron analysis grouped species currently recognized as A and B genome types into separate clades. This grouping supported the prior classification of all the species, with one exception. The species I. tiliacea was previously classified as a B genome species, but this DNA study classifies it as an A genome species. From the intron alignment, sequences specific to both A and B genome species were identified. Exon sequences indicated that I. ramosissima and I. umbraticola were quite different from other A genome species. Placement of I. littoralis was questionable: its introns were similar to other B genome species, but exons were quite different. Exon evolution indicated the B genome species evolved faster than A genome species. Both intron and exon results indicated the B genome species most closely related to sweetpotato (I. batatas) were I. trifida and I. tabascana.