Track 1-02

Description

Flowering plants can reproduce sexually (outcrossing and/or selfing) and/or asexually. Sexual reproduction implies the successful completion of meiosis and double fertilisation for the formation of both the embryo and the endosperm. In contrast, gametophytic apomixis is an asexual mode of reproduction through seeds that involves parthenogenetic embryo development from a cytologically unreduced egg cell (2n). Apospory is the process by which unreduced gametophytes are formed after a series of mitotic divisions of somatic cells (2n) in the ovary. This occurs independently from the sexual meiotic process; and therefore, both sexual and apomictic pathways may coexist simultaneously. Apospory is inherited in bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) as a single dominant Mendelian factor with distorted segregation (Martínez et al. 2001), and its degree of expression was reported to vary throughout the flowering season in P. cromyorrhizon, a close relative of bahiagrass (Quarin 1986). Bahiagrass is a perennial warm-season grass widely used for forage and utility turf in the south-eastern US due to its persistence in sandy, infertile soils. Diploid races reproduce sexually and are highly self-incompatible (Acuña et al. 2007), while polyploids are classified as pseudogamous apomicts (pollination is required) (Quarin 1999). Sexual tetraploid genotypes have been experimentally created (Quesenberry and Smith 2003; Quesenberry et al. 2010) and successfully used in crosses (Acuña et al. 2009). Cytoembryological analysis has been used to determine the mode of reproduction in bahiagrass (Martínez et al. 2001; Acuña et al. 2007). At anthesis, sexual plants produce spikelets having only a single Polygonum type meiotic embryo sac (SES), characterised by bearing the egg apparatus close to the micropyla, a large binucleated central cell and a group of antipodal cells at the chalazal end (Figure 1a). Highly apomictic plants produce ovules having single or multiple aposporous embryo sacs (AES), which present the egg apparatus and a central cell with 2 polar nuclei, and no antipodal cells (Figure 1b). Some tetraploid bahiagrass races are also able to produce ovules that have the sexual meiotic megasporocyte together with one or more aposporous sacs (AES+SES), and these plants are classified as facultative apomictic.

The objective of this study was to characterise the reproductive mode of 5 wild dwarf bahiagrasses, a highly apomictic hybrid (Acuña et al. 2009) and the cultivar ‘Argentine’ at different times during the flowering season and under different nitrogen (N) fertiliser rates.

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Seasonal Expression of Apospory in Bahiagrass

Flowering plants can reproduce sexually (outcrossing and/or selfing) and/or asexually. Sexual reproduction implies the successful completion of meiosis and double fertilisation for the formation of both the embryo and the endosperm. In contrast, gametophytic apomixis is an asexual mode of reproduction through seeds that involves parthenogenetic embryo development from a cytologically unreduced egg cell (2n). Apospory is the process by which unreduced gametophytes are formed after a series of mitotic divisions of somatic cells (2n) in the ovary. This occurs independently from the sexual meiotic process; and therefore, both sexual and apomictic pathways may coexist simultaneously. Apospory is inherited in bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum) as a single dominant Mendelian factor with distorted segregation (Martínez et al. 2001), and its degree of expression was reported to vary throughout the flowering season in P. cromyorrhizon, a close relative of bahiagrass (Quarin 1986). Bahiagrass is a perennial warm-season grass widely used for forage and utility turf in the south-eastern US due to its persistence in sandy, infertile soils. Diploid races reproduce sexually and are highly self-incompatible (Acuña et al. 2007), while polyploids are classified as pseudogamous apomicts (pollination is required) (Quarin 1999). Sexual tetraploid genotypes have been experimentally created (Quesenberry and Smith 2003; Quesenberry et al. 2010) and successfully used in crosses (Acuña et al. 2009). Cytoembryological analysis has been used to determine the mode of reproduction in bahiagrass (Martínez et al. 2001; Acuña et al. 2007). At anthesis, sexual plants produce spikelets having only a single Polygonum type meiotic embryo sac (SES), characterised by bearing the egg apparatus close to the micropyla, a large binucleated central cell and a group of antipodal cells at the chalazal end (Figure 1a). Highly apomictic plants produce ovules having single or multiple aposporous embryo sacs (AES), which present the egg apparatus and a central cell with 2 polar nuclei, and no antipodal cells (Figure 1b). Some tetraploid bahiagrass races are also able to produce ovules that have the sexual meiotic megasporocyte together with one or more aposporous sacs (AES+SES), and these plants are classified as facultative apomictic.

The objective of this study was to characterise the reproductive mode of 5 wild dwarf bahiagrasses, a highly apomictic hybrid (Acuña et al. 2009) and the cultivar ‘Argentine’ at different times during the flowering season and under different nitrogen (N) fertiliser rates.