Euphytica 93 (3): 293-300 (1997)
Wide hybridization between wheat (Triticum L.) and lymegrass (Leymus Hochst.)

Kesara Anamthawat-Jónsson, Sigrídur K. Bödvarsdóttir, Birkir Th. Bragason, Jón Gudmundsson
Agricultural Research Institute, Keldnaholt, Reykjavík, IS-112, Iceland

P.K. Martin, R.M.D. Koebner
Cereals Research Department, Cambridge Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Norwich NR4 7UJ, United Kingdom

Abstract

A total of 240 F1 hybrids was made beween wheat (Triticum aestivum L. em. Thell. (2n = 6x = 42) and T. carthlicum Nevski (2n = 4x = 28)) and perennial lymegrass (North European Leymus arenarius (L.) Hochst. (2n = 8x = 56) and North American L. mollis (Trin.) Pilger (2n = 4x = 28)). The wide crosses yielded embryos in 20% of caryopses and 96% of the embryos developed into normal hybrid plants. The hybrids were vegetatively vigorous, with evidence of the Leymus rhizomatous habit. Those deriving from L. arenarius survived overwintering in Iceland, but the hybrids L. mollis did not, whereas in a milder environment, both showed perenniality. Cytogenetic analysis of root tip cells before the plants were treated with colchicine showed that 21 out of 28 hybrids investigated had chromosome mosaics, with a population of both amphihaploid and amphidiploid cells. This spontaneous doubling of somatic chromosomes occurred in all cross combinations, with the highest average frequency of diploid cells (28%) in T. carthlicum x L. arenarius crosses. A few selfed seeds have been obtained from a T. aestivum x L. arenarius hybrid. All the hybrids were treated twice with colchicine, but the treatment appeared to have little or no effect on the frequency of chromosome doubling in the hybrids deriving from T. aestivum. The frequency of diploid cells, however, increased significantly (e.g. to 80%) in the hybrids deriving from the T. carthlicum parent. Genomic in situ hybridization confirmed the hybridity of the plants and showed that the hybrids were amphiploids containing genomes of both wheat and lymegrass. In situ hybridization using ribosomal DNA probe differentiated chromosomes of L. mollis, L. arenarius from those of wheat. The hybrids are being backcrossed with lymegrass pollen, aiming to domesticate the wild, perennial species.