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  • Author or Editor: Nianhe Xia x
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Curcuma L. is an economically important genus in the family Zingiberaceae. Many species are grown as medicinal, culinary, and ornamental crops. As a result of their high morphological diversity and small chromosome sizes, chromosome numbers and species relationships of Chinese Curcumas remain debated. This study examined chromosome numbers of 15 populations representing 11 species of Curcuma from China. Results showed that only Curcuma flaviflora S. Q. Tong was diploid with 2n = 2x = 42 and C. kwangsiensis S. G. Lee & C. F. Liang was tetraploid with 2n = 4x = 84. The other species were triploid (2n = 3x = 63). The study indicated that the basic chromosome number of Curcuma from China could be x = 21. The diploid C. flaviflora produced viable seeds, which was the main means for propagation. The tetraploid and the triploids produced no seeds and relied on rhizomes for propagation. Chromosome sizes of all species were small, ranging from 0.5 to 2.1 μm, which prevented karyotype analysis. The fact that nine of 11 species studied were triploid indicates that triploidy may have some type of competitive advantage over the diploid and tetraploid. In addition, the triploids are popular commercially because of abundant rhizome production and this may contribute to their wide distributions.

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Ploidy levels and genome sizes have significant implications in plant evolution and crop improvement. Species of Lonicera L. have long been cultivated as medicinal, ornamental crops, or both. However, chromosome numbers, karyotypes, and DNA contents have only been documented in a few species, of which some controversies regarding basic chromosome numbers and karyotypes remain. This study analyzed the chromosome numbers and karyomorphology of 11 cultivars across four species and also the DNA content of 10 cultivars representing six species of Lonicera. Among them, the chromosome numbers of nine cultivars are reported for the first time. Results showed that the basic chromosome number of x = 9 was constant, and chromosome numbers of 2n = 18, 27, 36, or 54 were observed, suggesting that polyploidy exists in the genus. Five cultivars are diploid with 2n = 18; one cultivar is triploid, four are tetraploid, and one is hexaploid. The karyotypes of all studied cultivars are 3B or 3A, except Lonicera sempervirens ‘Crimson Cascade’ that is 2B based on the Stebbins’ asymmetry classification of karyotypes. The asymmetry index (A1) values vary from 0.47 to 0.60. The chromosome lengths range from 0.77 to 4.09 μm. Total karyotype lengths differ from 33.55 to 78.71 μm. The 1C-value of 10 cultivars varies 3-fold, ranging from 1.158 to 3.664 pg. Information gathered from this study could be valuable for improving breeding efficiency in the development of new cultivars of Lonicera with enhanced medicinal, ornamental value, or both.

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