Main content area

Meiotic Restitution in Wheat Polyhaploids (Amphihaploids): A Potent Evolutionary Force

Jauhar, Prem P.
Journal of heredity 2007 v.98 no.2 pp. 188-193
Triticum aestivum, Zea mays subsp. mays, allopolyploidy, chromosomes, corn, crops, cultivars, durum wheat, evolution, genome, germ cells, haploidy, hexaploidy, hybrids, intergeneric hybridization, meiosis, plantlets, root tips, seeds
Polyploidy is well recognized as a major force in plant speciation. Among the polyploids in nature, allopolyploids are preponderant and include important crop plants like bread wheat, Triticum aestivum L. (2n = 6x = 42; AABBDD genomes). Allopolyploidy must result through concomitant or sequential events that entail interspecific or intergeneric hybridization and chromosome doubling in the resultant hybrids. To gain insight into the mechanism of evolution of wheat, we extracted polyhaploids of 2 cultivars, Chinese Spring (CS) and Fukuhokomugi (Fuko), of bread wheat by crossing them with maize, Zea mays L. ssp. mays. The derived Ph1-polyhaploids (2n = 3x = 21; ABD) showed during meiosis mostly univalents, which produced first-division restitution (FDR) nuclei that in turn gave rise to unreduced (2n) male gametes with 21 chromosomes. The haploids on maturity set some viable seed. The mean number of seeds per spike was 1.45 ± 0.161 in CS and 2.3 ± 0.170 in Fuko. Mitotic chromosome preparations from root tips of the derived plantlets revealed 2n = 42 chromosomes, that is, twice that of the parental polyhaploid, which indicated that they arose by fusion of unreduced male and female gametes formed by the polyhaploid. The Ph1-induced univalency must have produced 2n gametes and hence bilateral sexual polyploidization and reconstitution of disomic bread wheat. These findings highlight the quantum jump by which bread wheat evolved from durum wheat in nature. Thus, bread wheat offers an excellent example of rapid evolution by allopolyploidy. In the induced polyhaploids (ABD) that are equivalent of amphihaploids, meiotic phenomena such as FDR led to regeneration of parental bread wheat, perhaps a simulation of the evolutionary steps that occurred in nature at the time of the origin of hexaploid wheat.