Discordant inheritance of mitochondrial and plastid DNA in diverse alfalfa genotypes

N. R. Forsthoefel, H. J. Bohnert, S. E. Smith

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26 Scopus citations


Previous research has established that plastids are inherited biparentally in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), whereas mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been shown in limited studies to be inherited in a uniparental-maternal fashion. However, ultrastructural and genetic evidence suggests that mitochondria could be inherited from the paternal parent in at least some alfalfa genotypes. This study investigated the inheritance of mtDNA in 33 F1 progenies from crosses between two cytoplasmic male sterile maternal plants and 25 paternal plants. The paternal parents represented each of the eight basic germplasm groups of M. sativa. Cloned mtDNA fragments from M. sativa were used as hybridization probes to identify polymorphisms in mtDNA for Eco RI restriction sites. Polymorphisms were compared in parents and individual progenies to determine patterns of mtDNA inheritance. All progenies displayed the restriction pattern of the maternal parent, indicating that paternal inheritance of mtDNA in alfalfa is at best rare. A portion of the same progenies (N = 17) were also examined for their chloroplast DNA inheritance patterns. Chloroplast DNA displayed a mixed inheritance pattern, with six progenies showing uniparental-maternal and 11 progenies uniparental-paternal inheritance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-345
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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