Pistil smut infection increases ovary production, seed yield components, and pseudosexual reproductive allocation in buffalograss

Ambika Chandra, David R. Huff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sex expression of dioecious buffalograss [Bouteloua dactyloides Columbus (syn. Buchloë dactyloides (Nutt.) Engelm.)] is known to be environmentally stable with approximate 1:1, male to female, sex ratios. Here we show that infection by the pistil smut fungus [Salmacisia buchloëana Huff & Chandra (syn. Tilletia buchloëana Kellerman and Swingle)] shifts sex ratios of buffalograss to be nearly 100% phenotypically hermaphroditic. In addition, pistil smut infection decreased vegetative reproductive allocation, increased most seed yield components, and increased pseudosexual reproductive allocation in both sex forms compared to uninfected clones. In female sex forms, pistil smut infection resulted in a 26 fold increase in ovary production and a 35 fold increase in potential harvest index. In male sex forms, pistil smut infection resulted in 2.37 fold increase in floret number and over 95% of these florets contained a well-developed pistil. Although all ovaries of infected plants are filled with fungal teliospores and hence reproductively sterile, an average male-female pair of infected plants exhibited an 87 fold increase in potential harvest index compared to their uninfected clones. Acquiring an ability to mimic the effects of pistil smut infection would enhance our understanding of the flowering process in grasses and our efforts to increase seed yield of buffalograss and perhaps other grasses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-594
Number of pages83
JournalPlants
Volume3
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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