Characterization of apomictic potential in guayule (Parthenium argentatum) in vivo and in vitro

Roy N. Keys, Dennis T. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Guayule (Parthenium argentatum Gray), a latex-producing perennial desert shrub and potential industrial crop for semiarid regions, exhibits reproductive modes ranging from sexual, self-sterile diploids to predominantly apomictic, self-compatible polyploids. The objectives of this study were to develop and evaluate a rapid, simple technique for characterizing apomictic potential (percentage of ovules that produce apomictic embryos) in guayule breeding lines. Initial in vivo experiments were based on an auxin test that permitted quantification of apomictic frequency in grasses. In our trials, floral application of NAA or IBA resulted in embryo production similar to that of open-pollinated controls, but 2,4-D inhibited embryo production. Breeding lines could be separated based on embryo production using an in vivo auxin test; however, accuracy of the results was questionable because 1) pollen release and insect activity within isolation bags prevented distinguishing between sexual and apomictic embryos, and 2) high temperatures and large humidity fluctuations could have affected results. Thus, in vitro flower culture was investigated using liquid medium, because it would provide better control of these factors. Flowers developed normally in vitro, except that pollen was not released from the anthers; therefore, any embryos produced in vitro were considered to be apomictic. Embryo production was similar on both Nitsch and Nitsch and Woody Plant Media. Addition of growth regulators inhibited embryo production. Embryo production was tested on Nitsch and Nitsch medium without growth regulators for seven breeding lines. Based on statistical analyses, four classes of apomictic potential were identified, ranging from none (sexual) to high. Chemical names used: 2,4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4-D); indole-3-butyric acid (IBA); α-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-408
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Apomixis
  • Asteraceae
  • Auxin
  • Mitotic diplospory
  • Ovule culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Horticulture


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