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Crop Sci. 2002 Jan;42(1):192-196.

Ploidy Determination in Agrostis Using Flow Cytometry and Morphological Traits.

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Dep. of Plant Science, 59 Dudley Road, Foran Hall, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8520.


The taxonomic classification of the genus Agrostis is one of the most complicated of the grass genera. Classification based upon morphological and anatomical characters is difficult and complicated by the presence of intermediate forms and the misapplication of names. Determining ploidy levels of new germplasm can assist in species determination and is necessary before initiating breeding or genetics studies. The objectives of this study were to (i) evaluate the use of laser flow cytometry as a quick, reliable tool to determine ploidy level and aid in Agrostis species determination, and (ii) identify morphological characters associated with DNA content or ploidy level. The six Agrostis species evaluated were A. canina L. subsp. canina, A. canina L. subsp. montana (Hartm.) Hartm., A. palustris Huds. [= A. stolonifera var. palustris (Huds.) Farw.], A. tenuis Sibth. (= A. capillaris L.), A. castellana Boiss. & Reut., and A. alba L. Ploidy level was determined by flow cytometry and root tip chromosome counts. Plant height, panicle height, flag leaf length, flag leaf width, and highest internode length of mature field-grown spaced plants were measured. Significant differences in 2C DNA content were found between species (P < 0.01) differing in ploidy level. Flow cytometry was effective in differentiating between diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid species. Chromosome numbers previously reported and those observed in this study were positively correlated with 2C nuclear DNA content (r = 0.98, P < 0.01). Flag leaf length was the only morphological measurement taken that was significantly positively correlated to DNA content (r = 0.98, P < 0.001). The results of this study indicate that laser flow cytometry is a quick, reliable tool to determine ploidy levels and infer certain species of AGROSTIS: This technique will aid breeders to quickly and accurately determine ploidy levels of new germplasm collections.


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