Megasporogenesis and megagametogenesis in several Tripsacum species (Poaceae)
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The Tripsacum agamic complex (x = 18) will provide valuable characters for maize breeding, provided that apomixis can be manipulated. Apomixis in Tripsacum was first reported 40 years ago, but its prevalence in the genus has not been established. Reproductive development was determined for eight Mexican and two South American Tripsacum species by microscopic analysis of ovaries cleared in a benzyl benzoate-dibutyl phthalate solution using interference contrast optics. The occurrence and distribution of callose deposition during megasporogenesis were determined by fluorescence microscopy of ovaries optically cleared in an aqueous sucrose solution containing aniline blue. Diploid genotypes were sexual. Polyploid forms reproduced apomictically following the Antennaria type (complete meiosis abortion) of diplospory. The Taraxacum type (unreduced megaspore production through meiotic restitution nuclei) of diplospory also occurred but rarely. The walls of diplosporic megasporocytes lacked callose whereas the walls of sexual megasporocytes contained a normal complement of callose. The absence of callose suggests that the diplosporic forms of reproduction result from mutations affecting the normal meiotic process. Apomixis in the Tripsacum genus is facultative, and the production of new polyploid genotypes through genetic exchanges involving both apomictic and sexual genotypes is possible.
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