Protoplast fusion a novel approach to organelle genetics in higher plants

Kumar, A.; Cocking, E.C.

American Journal of Botany 74(8): 1289-1303


ISSN/ISBN: 0002-9122
DOI: 10.2307/2444164
Accession: 006216444

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In the majority of higher plants there is maternal inheritance of cytoplasmic organelles and, as a consequence, there are few opportunities for the study of the effects on plant phenotype of having cytoplasm initially containing organelles of both parents. Now the availability of somatic plant protoplasts, which can be fused together and suitably cultured to produce somatic hybrid plants, is enabling the effects of such hybrid cytoplasms to be investigated in higher plants exhibiting maternal inheritance. A very wide range of cytoplasmic genetic diversity, including mitochondrial and chloroplast recombinants, can be produced by such somatic hybridizations, and a theoretical model is presented to show the origins of this wide range of cytoplasmic diversity. Cybrids produced by such protoplast fusions have been shown to be of importance in plant breeding especially in relation to transfer of cytoplasmic male sterility and herbicide resistance. Protoplast fusion, including the fusion of gametic and somatic protoplasts, is also enabling the study of the inheritance of cytoplasmic controlled traits in higher plants.