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Cytology and reproduction of reciprocal backcrosses between pearl millet and sexual and apomictic hybrids of pearl millet pennisetum americanum x pennisetum squamulatum



Cytology and reproduction of reciprocal backcrosses between pearl millet and sexual and apomictic hybrids of pearl millet pennisetum americanum x pennisetum squamulatum



Crop Science 25(1): 59-62



Interspecific hybrids (2n = 41) between pearl millet, (2n = 4x = 28) and P. squamulatum Fresen (2n = 6x = 54) were used as pollen and maternal parents and backcrossed (BC) to pearl millet to determine the potential for germplasm exchange and for transfer of apomixis to pearl millet. Backcrosses to diploid pearl millet (2n = 14) resulted in 12 28- or 27-chromosome male and female-sterile plants from more than 600 pollinated inflorescences. Backcrosses to tetraploid pearl millet (2n = 4x = 28) resulted in 2830 BC1 progenies (crossability 91%). These BC1 progenies had somatic chromosome numbers ranging from 2n = 32 to 2n = 39 with a mode of 2n = 35 chromosomes. They were perennial and more closely resembled pearl millet in morphological characteristics than did the original interspecific hybrids. Meiosis was irregular with a mean of 4.88 bivalents. Univalents, trivalents, quadrivalents, and other multivalents were present in all microsporocytes. Eighty-four percent of these plants did not shed pollen and the remaining 16% were semi-sterile with pollen stainability ranging up to 6.6%. Among 177 semi-sterile BC1 plants resulting from crosses with highly apomictic F1 hybrids as pollen parents, 55 progenies showed only apomictic embryo sac development. Seed set ranged from 0 to 14 seed per head under open-pollination. Similar chromosome behavior and fertility as above were observed in progeny from reciprocal backcrosses between the sexual intespecific hybrids and diploid or tetraploid pearl millet. The production of partially male-fertile apomictic BC1 plants should make it possible to continue gene transfer from P. squamulatum to pearl millet in succeeding generations.

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