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1.  Reticulate evolution in Panicum (Poaceae): the origin of tetraploid broomcorn millet, P. miliaceum  
Journal of Experimental Botany  2014;65(12):3165-3175.
Summary
Sequence data and genomic in situ hybridization identify the New World diploid Panicum capillare as an ancestral genome of the Old World tetraploid cereal broomcorn millet, P. miliaceum.
Panicum miliaceum (broomcorn millet) is a tetraploid cereal, which was among the first domesticated crops, but is now a minor crop despite its high water use efficiency. The ancestors of this species have not been determined; we aimed to identify likely candidates within the genus, where phylogenies are poorly resolved. Nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequences from P. miliaceum and a range of diploid and tetraploid relatives were used to develop phylogenies of the diploid and tetraploid species. Chromosomal in situ hybridization with genomic DNA as a probe was used to characterize the genomes in the tetraploid P. miliaceum and a tetraploid accession of P. repens. In situ hybridization showed that half the chromosomes of P. miliaceum hybridized more strongly with labelled genomic DNA from P. capillare, and half with labelled DNA from P. repens. Genomic DNA probes differentiated two sets of 18 chromosomes in the tetraploid P. repens. Our phylogenetic data support the allotetraploid origin of P. miliaceum, with the maternal ancestor being P. capillare (or a close relative) and the other genome being shared with P. repens. Our P. repens accession was also an allotetraploid with two dissimilar but closely related genomes, the maternal genome being similar to P. sumatrense. Further collection of Panicum species, particularly from the Old World, is required. It is important to identify why the water-efficient P. miliaceum is now of minimal importance in agriculture, and it may be valuable to exploit the diversity in this species and its ancestors.
doi:10.1093/jxb/eru161
PMCID: PMC4071833  PMID: 24723408
Crop ancestors; domestication; Panicum; hybridization; polyploidy; genomic in situ hybridization
2.  Somatic hybrid plants of Nicotiana × sanderae (+) N. debneyi with fungal resistance to Peronospora tabacina 
Annals of Botany  2011;108(5):809-819.
Background and Aims
The genus Nicotiana includes diploid and tetraploid species, with complementary ecological, agronomic and commercial characteristics. The species are of economic value for tobacco, as ornamentals, and for secondary plant-product biosynthesis. They show substantial differences in disease resistance because of their range of secondary products. In the last decade, sexual hybridization and transgenic technologies have tended to eclipse protoplast fusion for gene transfer. Somatic hybridization was exploited in the present investigation to generate a new hybrid combination involving two sexually incompatible tetraploid species. The somatic hybrid plants were characterized using molecular, molecular cytogenetic and phenotypic approaches.
Methods
Mesophyll protoplasts of the wild fungus-resistant species N. debneyi (2n = 4x = 48) were electrofused with those of the ornamental interspecific sexual hybrid N. × sanderae (2n = 2x = 18). From 1570 protoplast-derived cell colonies selected manually in five experiments, 580 tissues were sub-cultured to shoot regeneration medium. Regenerated plants were transferred to the glasshouse and screened for their morphology, chromosomal composition and disease resistance.
Key Results
Eighty-nine regenerated plants flowered; five were confirmed as somatic hybrids by their intermediate morphology compared with parental plants, cytological constitution and DNA-marker analysis. Somatic hybrid plants had chromosome complements of 60 or 62. Chromosomes were identified to parental genomes by genomic in situ hybridization and included all 18 chromosomes from N. × sanderae, and 42 or 44 chromosomes from N. debneyi. Four or six chromosomes of one ancestral genome of N. debneyi were eliminated during culture of electrofusion-treated protoplasts and plant regeneration. Both chloroplasts and mitochondria of the somatic hybrid plants were probably derived from N. debneyi. All somatic hybrid plants were fertile. In contrast to parental plants of N. × sanderae, the seed progeny of somatic hybrid plants were resistant to infection by Peronospora tabacina, a trait introgressed from the wild parent, N. debneyi.
Conclusions
Sexual incompatibility between N. × sanderae and N. debneyi was circumvented by somatic hybridization involving protoplast fusion. Asymmetrical nuclear hybridity was seen in the hybrids with loss of chromosomes, although importantly, somatic hybrids were fertile and stable. Expression of fungal resistance makes these somatic hybrids extremely valuable germplasm in future breeding programmes in ornamental tobacco.
doi:10.1093/aob/mcr197
PMCID: PMC3177675  PMID: 21880657
Chloroplast DNA (cpDNA); protoplasts; electrofusion; fungal resistance; genomic in situ hybridization (GISH); mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA); Nicotiana debneyi; N. × sanderae; Peronospora tabacina; random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD); somatic hybridization

Results 1-2 (2)