Sexual Plant Reproduction 11(5): 265-271 (Nov 1998)
Variation in sporophytic and gametophytic vigor in wild and cultivated varieties of Cucurbita pepo and their F1 and F2 generations
M. H. Jóhannsson and A. G. Stephenson

Abstract: This study examines sporophytic and gametophytic vigor in wild and cultivated varieties of Cucurbita pepo L. and their hybrids in order to determine whether hybrid vigor extends to the microgametophyte generation. It also examines the variation in sporophytic and gametophytic vigor to discern the non-genetic influences of pollen provisioning by the sporophyte on pollen performance from the genetic influences of the microgametophyte's own genotype on pollen performance. A cultivated and a wild C. pepo and their F1 and the F2 generations were grown under field conditions and flower and fruit production were monitored over one summer. We found that the four types of plants differed significantly in the number of male and female flowers and the number of fruits they produced. The F1 plants produced significantly more male flowers and marginally more female flowers and fruits than the parental lines. To estimate gametophytic vigor pollen was germinated in vitro and pollen tube length measured after 30 min. We found that pollen tubes from the F1 plants had significantly greater growth than tubes from the parental lines or the F2 generation, indicating that hybrid vigor extends to the microgametophytic generation. By partitioning the variance of pollen tube growth into ’within' and ’among' plant components of variation, we were able to show that the genotype of the microgametophyte influences pollen performance in vitro, but that expression of hybrid vigor in the microgametophyte is likely to be due to an environmental effect related to provisioning of the pollen grains during development.