Recurrent Selection for Microgametophytic Vigor in Alfalfa and Correlated Responses at the Sporophytic Level
- D. Rosellini ,
- F. Veronesi and
- M. Falcinelli
In alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), ovules closest to the stigma (apical) were more likely to be fertilized than the ones closest to the pedicellar end of the ovary (basal). Based on the hypothesis that basal ovules are fertilized by more vigorous microgametophytes, differential selective pressures for microgametophytic vigor were applied by selecting the basal seed and the apical seed in alfalfa pods. Ten pods containing at least eight seeds from each of 100 plants were used for each of three cycles. Plants from apical and basal seed were separately intercrossed. Pollen tube lengths of apical and basal plants from the second and third cycle of selection differed. The tubes of plants from apical seed were shorter than the tubes of plants from basal seed after 2, 5, and 22 h of in vitro growth. Divergence increased from the second to the third selection cycle, indicating that additive genetic effects are involved in the expression of microgametophytic vigor. Pollen germination percentage was not affected by selection. Sporophytic traits of second-cycle plants from the selected populations were evaluated for 2 yr. Plant height, dry matter yield at the first harvest, and seed yield were significantly lower for plants from apical seed, showing genetic overlap between the gametophytic and the sporophytic phases for vigor-related traits. Also, coefficients of variation of plants from basal seed were lower than those from apical seed for seed of yield. The absence of an unselected control prevented us from concluding whether or not selection of basal seed can increase sporophytic vigor, but our results encourage further study to assess the practical interest of this type of selection in alfalfa breeding.
Copyright © 1994.