Influence of Induced Polyploidy on Fertility and Morphology of Rudbeckia Species and Hybrids
Rudbeckia spp. are adaptable and valuable ornamental wildflowers. Development of new varieties of Rudbeckia spp., with improved commercial characteristics, would be highly desirable. Interspecific hybridization and induced polyploidy may be avenues for improvement within the genus. The objective of this study was to evaluate fertility, morphology, phenology of flowering, and perennialness (overwintering survival) for lines of diploid and induced allotetraploids of R. subtomentosa × hirta and diploid and autotetraploids of R. subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’. Polyploid lines were developed and propagated in vitro and then grown ex vitro in a randomized complete block design with 12 replications. Compared with their diploid counterparts, autotetraploid lines of R. subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ had similar internode lengths, plant heights, number of stems, flowering times (date at first anthesis), and fall and spring survival (100%); reduced number of inflorescences and male and female fertility; and increased inflorescence diameters. Compared with their diploid counterparts, allotetraploids of R. subtomentosa × hirta had similar internode lengths, reduced number of inflorescences, delayed flowering times, and increased pollen staining. Allotetraploids had limited male and female fertility compared with no detectable fertility in their diploid counterparts. Plant height and number of stems either decreased or showed no change with induced allotetraploidy. Spring survival of diploid hybrid genotypes ranged from 0% to 82% and was not improved in the allotetraploid hybrids. For a given genotype, some polyploidy lines varied significantly in certain morphological traits (e.g., plant height) indicating somaclonal variation may have developed in vitro or there were variable genomic or epigenetic changes associated with induced polyploidy.