The genus Brachiaria comprises more than 100 species and is the single most important genus of forage grass in the tropics. Brachiaria brizantha, widely used in Brazilian pastures for beef and dairy production, is native to tropical Africa. As a subsidy to the breeding program underway in Brazil, cytological studies were employed to determine the chromosome number and to evaluate microsporogenesis in 46 accessions of this species available at Embrapa Beef Cattle (Brazil).
Brachiaria humidicola is a grass adapted to seasonally swampy grasslands in Africa; two cultivars, ‘common’ and Llanero, are widely used in Brazilian pastures. New cultivars are in great demand in order to diversify current production systems to achieve improved quality and yield. Cytological analyses of 55 accessions of this species available from the Embrapa Beef Cattle germplasm collection revealed that 27 are apomictic and have 2n = 54 chromosomes.
Brachiaria humidicola (Poaceae), originally from Africa, is an economically important pasture plant in tropical South America. An accession of B. humidicola (H038) collected from the wild African savanna (Mbeya, Tanzania) showed irregular microsporogenesis. This meiotic behavior was consistent with an allopolyploid origin. Multivalent chromosome association at diakinesis gave tri- to octavalents, associated with two nucleoli in some cells. Six non-congregated univalents in metaphase I and anaphase I, along with previous lines of evidence for x = 6 in B.
In the hexaploid (2n = 6x = 54) accession B176 of Brachiaria brizantha, one cytological characteristic differentiated it from the other accessions previously analyzed with the same ploidy level. Nearly 40% of meiocytes displayed the chromosome set arranged at two metaphase plates at the poles of the cell, close to the membrane. In these cells, both metaphase plates were arranged in an angle to form a typical tripolar spindle. Therefore, cells did not show normal chromosome segregation at anaphase I.
Microsporogenesis was evaluated in the Brachiaria humidicola collection of the Embrapa Beef Cattle Center, represented by 60 accessions. One accession (H121) presented an abnormal pattern of cytokinesis that had never been reported in this genus. Among 900 meiocytes analyzed in the first division, 10.7% underwent precocious and multiple cytokinesis in metaphase I, fractionating the genome and the cytoplasm into two or more parts. The expected cytokinesis after telophase I did not occur.