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Heredity (Edinb). 2003 Jul;91(1):36-42.

Heterosis for biomass yield and related traits in five hybrids of Arabidopsis thaliana L. Heynh.

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Institute of Plant Breeding, Seed Science and Population Genetics, University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstrasse 21, D-70599 Stuttgart, Germany.


Heterosis is of utmost economic importance in plant breeding. However, its underlying molecular causes are still unknown. Given the numerous advantages of Arabidopsis thaliana as a model species in plant genetics and genomics, we assessed the extent of heterosis in this species using five hybrids derived from five ecotypes. Parents, F(1) and F(2), generations in both reciprocal forms were grown in a greenhouse experiment with four replications. Mid-parent heterosis (MPH) and best-parent heterosis (BPH) averaged across hybrids were surprisingly high for biomass yield (MPH: 60.3%; BPH: 32.9%) and rosette diameter (MPH: 49.4%; BPH: 34.8%), but smaller for flowering date (MPH: 27.5%; BPH: 18.5%), seed yield (MPH: 18.9%; BPH: 1.7%), and yield components. Individual hybrids varied considerably in their MPH and BPH values for all traits, one cross displaying 140.1% MPH for biomass yield. MPH was not associated with parental genetic distance determined from molecular markers. Reciprocal effects were significant only in a few cases. With a proper choice of hybrids, our results encourage the use of Arabidopsis as a model species for investigating the molecular causes of heterosis.

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