Current Plant Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture Volume 6, 1988, pp 485-502

Interspecific Hybridization between Phaseolus Vulgaris and P. Acutifolius
J. Giles Waines, Richard M. Manshardt, William C. Wells


There are two main reasons for attempting to make interspecific hybrids within a genus. The first is to study some aspect of growth, metabolism, or development in the hybrid plant in comparison to one or both of its parents. In particular, this includes chromosome pairing behavior during meiosis, from which is often inferred an estimate of the supposed evolutionary relationship of the parent species. Although hybrids have been reported between species in Phaseolus, there has not been a sufficiently exhaustive study of chromosome pairing in hybrids between any two species to attempt the kind of pairing analysis advocated by JACKSON (1982, 1984), who collected sufficient data to determine whether chiasmata are distributed randomly, as in hybrids with genetic control of pairing, or nonrandomly, as in normal diploids. Many of the older studies assumed that chromosome pairing in interspecific hybrids was due to pairing of homologous genes along the length of the chromosome. Conversely, if chromosome arms did not pair, genes along the arms were not homologous. Although inversions and translocations are known to prevent arm associations, rarely has the possibility that genes may control chromosome pairing in diploid interspecific hybrids been considered (WAINES, 1976). Univalents and lack of recombination may be the result of genetically controlled nonalignment of mitotic genomes (BENNET, 1984), and presumably meiotic spindles, which prevent chromosome pairing, even though gene arrangement along chromosomes is similar. Such an hypothesis may render chromosome pairing studies less attractive for the evolutionist, for it removes an aspect of scholarly speculation inherent in the study of so-called phylogenetic relationships. Unfortunately, far too many plant cytogeneticists still report their work not as pairing or nonpairing of chromosomes, but as revealing schemes of "homology" or phylogeny.

The second reason is to achieve gene transfer in a study of evolution, or in a breeding program, either by recombination and segregation in the F2 and later generations, or if the F1 hybrid is self-sterile, through a backcross program, or some other more complicated breeding scheme, such as three species crosses (COYNE, 1964). Although many plant interspecific hybrids have been made since 1900, most have been lost, and the amount of usable data collected from them is limited. Often production of the hybrid was considered justification for the effort in making it, or cytogenetic analysis of meiosis in the hybrid was the extent of the information gathered. If the F1 hybrid was self-sterile, rarely was a backcross to one or both of the parents attempted so that self-fertile progeny might be obtained. Many possibilities for gene transfer between species were lost because hybridizers were more concernet with hybrid formation and so-called phylogenetic analysis than to obtain viable material from the hbrid. With the advent of cheap household freezers, it is now possible to freeze, or chill, hybrid or backcross seed once fertility has been restored, and conserve the hybrid germplasm for future use by geneticists or breeders. In this way, the considerable effort spent in making difficult hybrids will not be wasted, but may be of use to future scientists.

Three thorough, but different, reviews of interspecific hybridization in Phaseolus have been published recently (PRATT, 1983; HUCL and SCOLES, 1985; MOK et al., 1986). The reader is referred to these ecellent reviews for an overview of the subject. We shall concentrate on interspecific hybridization between common and tepary beans in this chapter, and use this cross to compare interspecific hybridization in beans with those in the wheat group (Triticineae) which have been extensively used for interspecific hybridization studies in plant breeding. This interspecific cross in Phaseolus is of particular interest since the tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius A. Gray) is a source of resistance to common bacterial blight (Xanthomonas campestris), leafhopper (Empoasca krameri), charcoal rot (Macrophomina phaseolina), drought, and heat.


Interspecific hybridization between common bean, P. vulgaris L., and scarlet runner bean, P. coccineus L., was performed by Mendel (1865), and there is an extensive literature on this cross (reviewed by Lamprecht, 1948; and more recently b Hucl and Scoles, 1985; and Mok et al., 1986). Interspecific hybrids of P. vulgaris with P. acutifolius and P. lunatus L. were reported by HONMA (1956) and HONMA and HEECKT (1959). Generally speaking, however, there are few reports on interspecific hybridization of other species of Phaseolus. These legumes have been, and are still, neglected relative to the extensive research effort on wide crosses in cereals. The reasones for this neglect are not easy to understand, but they possibly represent the predominant place that cereals occupy in agriculture and, hence, the research effort of Western Europe and North America. Hutchinson (196) reported that crossing between species in the Leguminosae is difficult, and often impossible, even between those that appear to be closely related. This may be true for some genera in the family such as Vicia (Bond, 1976), but is proving to be not so in Phaseolus. The evidence suggests that crosses within the recently defined smaller genus are not so much more difficult than crosses with the Triticum-Aegilops-Secale group. Phaseolus interspecific hybrid embryos may require in vitro culture, and some genotype combinations may produce lethal plants, but there appears to be more genetic recombination in them than between Triticum and Secale crhomsomes. The basic problem was that until recently, far fewer legume germplasm collections existed, and those that did were often unavailable for general use. Moreover, the collections were classified under a confusing and erroneous genus concept, which lumped many species now separated into several different, distantly related genera, such as Vigna, Macroptilium, etc., under Phaseolus (VERDCOURT, 1970; MARECHAL et al., 1978). These facts emphasize the need for extensive collection of germplasm, as well as thorough morphological and taxonomic studies in a group of plants, before more sohpisticated biosystematic or genetic work is attempted. Recent taxonomic treatments of the genus Phaseolus include those by MARECHAL et al. (1978) and DELGADO-SALINAS (1985).


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