X International Congress of Genetics (1959)
Gene Systems Regulating Characters of Ecological Races and Subspecies
Jens C. Clausen

Latent Variability in Ryegrass

Wimmera ryegrass is a highly purified strain of Lolium rigidum, a 7-chromosome species native to the Mediterranean region. It is a spring annual that attains flowering without cold treatment. One would therefore not expect vernalization to have any effect on such a species.

J. P. Cooper (1954) found that when Wimmera ryegrass is sown outdoors in spring it will initiate flowering at the seventh to eighth node (mean 7.2). When it is sown in a heated greenhouse and given continuous light, considerable previously hidden variability is disclosed, and the seedlings initiate flowering at various nodes, ranging from the fourth to the twenty-first, as shown in Table V (mean node, 12.5). The variability will again be hidden if, before the continuous light treatment, the seeds are vernalized for six weeks at 3°C. When the cold treatment is followed by continuous light, the plants will initiate flowering at the fourth to the sixth node (mean 5.1).

Wimmera Ryegrass, Lolium rigidum, Latent Variability Revealed at Continuous Illumination (After Cooper, 1954)

 Node of floral initiation
4-5 6-7 8-9 10-11 12-13 14-15 16-17 18-19 20-21 Total
Vernalization at 3°C11 9               20
Heated greenhouse only2   4 7 7 5 1 2 2 30

The cold treatment apparently starts and equalizes certain gene-controlled processes related to development. No previous selection has taken place for the combination of heated greenhouse and continuous light, and the plants accordingly reveal a considerable degree of residual variability under this artificial condition.

CybeRose note: This experiment sheds some light on Avakian's success in converting winter wheat to spring wheat, as well as the report on patrogenesis by Collins & Kempton.

Furthermore, compare the existence of latent variability, exposed under unnatural conditions, with the controlled variation that was slowly revealed over decades in the Illinois selection experiment:

Smith, L.: Illinois corn selection (1909)

Burbank: Corn Selection - Illinois (1914)

Jugenheimer: Oil and protein content in maize, Illinois (1961)