Research Article

Abnormal male meiosis explains pollen sterility in the polyploid medicinal plant Pinellia ternata (Araceae)

Published: January 17, 2012
Genet. Mol. Res. 11 (1) : 112-120 DOI: 10.4238/2012.January.17.1

Abstract

Pinellia ternata is an important traditional Chinese medicinal plant. Its different populations in China have various ploidy levels, based on x = 13, as well as extensive aneuploid series. The microsporogenesis process was observed in specimens from three populations from three regions of Hubei Province; they were characterized by normal and abnormal meiotic divisions in pollen mother cells (PMCs) at all stages simultaneously. Meiotic abnormalities including univalents/multivalents, chromosomal laggards/bridges and micronuclei appeared in about 50% of the PMCs, together with abnormal cytokinesis. Chromatin/chromosome transfer between meiocytes occurred only during the first division, at low frequency; this might contribute to these meiotic abnormalities. Although the remaining 50% of the PMCs presented normal cytological behavior, pollen fertility was only about 2%. These results provide cytological explanations for its low seed-set and the general use of asexual reproduction through tubers and bulbils; it also explains the wide variations in chromosome number.

Pinellia ternata is an important traditional Chinese medicinal plant. Its different populations in China have various ploidy levels, based on x = 13, as well as extensive aneuploid series. The microsporogenesis process was observed in specimens from three populations from three regions of Hubei Province; they were characterized by normal and abnormal meiotic divisions in pollen mother cells (PMCs) at all stages simultaneously. Meiotic abnormalities including univalents/multivalents, chromosomal laggards/bridges and micronuclei appeared in about 50% of the PMCs, together with abnormal cytokinesis. Chromatin/chromosome transfer between meiocytes occurred only during the first division, at low frequency; this might contribute to these meiotic abnormalities. Although the remaining 50% of the PMCs presented normal cytological behavior, pollen fertility was only about 2%. These results provide cytological explanations for its low seed-set and the general use of asexual reproduction through tubers and bulbils; it also explains the wide variations in chromosome number.