We examined the effects of pollen selection for rapid pollen- tube growth on progeny vigor. First, we crossed a wild gourd (Cucurbita texana) to a cultivated zucchini (Cucurbita pepo cv 'Black Beauty') to produce an F1 and then an F2 generation. Half of the F1 seeds were produced by depositing small loads of C. texana pollen onto the stigmas of C. pepo. These small pollen loads were insufficient to produce a full complement of seeds and, consequently, both the fast- and the slow-growing pollen tubes were permitted to achieve fertilization. An F2 generation was then produced by depositing small loads of F1 pollen onto stigmas of F1 plants. The F2 seeds resulting from two generations of small pollen loads are termed 'the non- selected line' because there was little or no selection for pollen-tube growth rate on these plants. The other half of the F1 and F2 seeds were produced by depositing large pollen loads (>10000 pollen grains) onto stigmas and then allowing only the first 1% or so of the pollen tubes that entered the ovary to fertilize the ovules. We did this by excising the styles at the ovary at 12- 15 h after pollination. The resulting F2 seeds are termed 'the selected line' because they were produced by two generations of selection for only the fastest growing pollen tubes. Small pollen loads from the F2 plants, both the selected and the non-selected lines, were then deposited onto stigmas of different C. pepo flowers, and the vigor of the resulting seeds was compared under greenhouse and field conditions. The results showed that the seeds fertilized by pollen from the selected line had greater vegetative vigor as seedlings and greater flower and fruit production as mature plants than the seeds fertilized by pollen from the non-selected line. This study demonstrates that selection for fast pollen-tube growth (selection on the microgametophyte) leads to a correlated increase in sporophyte (progeny) vigor.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science