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Main research question/goal
Polyploids are plants with more than two chromosome sets. They can be induced relatively easily with chemicals; however, this technique leaves us with some questions. Can we develop new technology to create polyploids and genetic variation in ornamentals? Can we quantify and increase the synthesis of gametes with an increased number of chromosome sets (2n or unreduced gametes)?  Is it possible to monitor the polyploidization process and to visualize the development of polyploid cells and tissues? Can we regenerate solid polyploids from plants that are only partly polyploid (ploidy chimeras)? Subsequently, are we able to measure any physiological added value polyploids might possess? Is their sustainability, water balance and stress tolerance better than their diploid counterparts?

Research approach
Begonia is the model crop for the 2n gametes study. We collect a wide assortment of genotypes (cultivars as well as wild species). We develop protocols for flow-cytometric screening for the presence of 2n gametes within the pollen. Subsequently we attempt to induce or increase the production of this gamete type by using temperature and chemical treatments. Finally, we use these gametes to create new crossing populations. We use microscopic techniques to histologically characterize already available Spathiphyllum and azalea polyploids. In the last work package, we test Begonia, Spathiphyllum and azalea polyploids by means of a series of morphological parameters and we define their drought stress and ethylene sensitivity.

Knowledge developed on alternative polyploidy induction with 2n gametes offers opportunities for breeders to enhance genetic variation. Moreover, comparisons between polyploid populations synthesized after either chemical induction or 2n gamete synthesis allow us to determine any added value of the latter group. The project will extend knowledge on polyploids because the polyploidization process will be closely monitored and the regeneration of solid polyploids from ploidy chimeras will be optimized. The final work package provides a number of indications on the commercial added value of polyploids for different ornamental species. The project thus merges innovative technology development and practical implementation.

Funding provider(s)
IWT - Instituut voor de aanmoediging door wetenschap en technologie in Vlaanderen

External partner(s)
PCS - Proefcentrum voor de Sierteelt
Ugent - Fac. Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen
Effective start/end date1/10/0530/09/09

ID: 4158351