Title:
Lolium Multiflorum Line Inducing Genome Loss
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Dihaploid homozygous Fescue species may be produced by interspecific hybridization of Fescue with novel ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, lines, that induce genome loss. Plants that are dihaploid homozygous Lolium and amphidiploids are also produced.



Inventors:
Kindiger, Bryan K. (El Reno, OK, US)
Application Number:
12/565350
Publication Date:
04/01/2010
Filing Date:
09/23/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
800/320
International Classes:
A01H5/00; A01H1/02
View Patent Images:
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Other References:
Zwierzykowski, Z. Genetica Polonica 21(3): 259-272 (1980)
Werner, M. Genetica Polonica 24(2): 139-148 (1983)
Spangenberg et al. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 88(5): 509-519 (July 1994)
Primary Examiner:
FOX, DAVID T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
USDA-ARS-OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER (BELTSVILLE, MD, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A Lolium multiflorum diploid plant or parts thereof which segregates for levels of pollen sterility and where upon using the Lolium as the maternal parent in an interspecific hybridization with a Festuca species, being utilized as the paternal parent, confers to the resultant sterile F1 interspecific hybrids the ability to produce some seed via parthenogenesis that also possess a viable embryo, wherein said seeds which possess a viable embryo, may develop into F2 generation plants at least some of which are dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising a karyotype exhibiting a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equivalent to the chromosome number of said Festuca paternal parent and no Lolium chromosomes.

2. The Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1 selected from the group consisting of IL-1, deposited as ATCC deposit accession no. PTA-10229, and progeny thereof.

3. The Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1 selected from the group consisting of IL-2, deposited as ATCC deposit accession no. PTA-10315, and progeny thereof.

4. The Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1 wherein said seed that possess a viable embryo develops into F2 generation plants at least some of which are dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising a karyotype of 42 Festuca chromosomes when said Festuca species paternal parent is Tall Fescue, Festuca arundinaceae.

5. Seed of said Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1.

6. An ovule of said Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1.

7. A tissue culture of regenerable cells of said Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1.

8. A method for producing fertile dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising: a) providing the Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1; b) crossing said Lolium multiflorum diploid line as the maternal parent with a Festuca species utilized as the paternal parent to generate sterile F1 interspecific hybrid plants; c) recovering and planting the panicle obtained from said F1 interspecific hybrid plants, wherein those of said seed heads that have developed embryos via parthenogenesis will develop into F2 plants; and d) growing said F2 plants, wherein at least some of said F2 plants comprise dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising a karyotype with a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equivalent to the chromosome number of said Festuca paternal parent and no Lolium chromosomes.

9. The method of claim 8 wherein said F2 plants further comprise dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum possessing a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes and no Festuca chromosomes; amphidiploids comprising a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes and Festuca chromosomes equivalent to the chromosome number of said Festuca male parent; or both.

10. The method of claim 9 further comprising recovering at least one of said F2 plants.

11. The method of claim 8 wherein said Festuca species male parent is Tall Fescue, Festuca arundinaceae, and said dihaploid homozygous Festuca species F2 plants comprise a karyotype of 42 Festuca chromosomes.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein said F2 plants further comprise dihaploid homozygous Lolium species comprising a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes and no Festuca chromosomes, amphidiploids comprising a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes and 42 Festuca chromosomes, or both.

13. The method of claim 8 wherein said Lolium multiflorum diploid line is used as the maternal parent and is selected from the group consisting of IL-1 (ATCC deposit accession no. PTA-10229) and progeny thereof.

14. The method of claim 8 wherein said Lolium multiflorum diploid line is used as the maternal parent and is selected from the group consisting of IL-2 (ATCC deposit accession no. PTA-10315) and progeny thereof.

15. The method of claim 8 wherein said F2 plants comprise extranuclear genes of Lolium multiflorum

16. A dihaploid homozygous Festuca species produced by the process of claim 8, comprising extranuclear genes of Lolium multiflorum.

17. The dihaploid homozygous Festuca species produced by the process of claim 11, comprising extranuclear genes and cytoplasm of Lolium multiflorum.

18. A method for producing fertile dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising: a) providing the Lolium multiflorum diploid line of claim 1; b) crossing said Lolium multiflorum diploid line as a maternal parent with a Festuca species as the paternal parent to generate sterile F1 interspecific hybrid plants; c) identifying somatic sectors in said F1 plants or in plants which are progeny thereof in which somatic sectors appear as fescue growing shoots comprising a dihaploid homozygous Festuca karyotype with all Festuca chromosomes and no Lolium chromosomes; and d) retaining said F1 plants or said progeny in (c) which are identified as possessing said somatic sectors or recovering said somatic sectors therefrom; wherein said somatic sectors develop into mature plants comprising dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising a karyotype exhibiting a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equivalent to the chromosome number of said Festuca patenal parent and no Lolium chromosomes.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein said progeny are produced by recovering and sowing seed from the panicles of said F1 hybrid plants and allowing said seed to develop into said progeny.

20. The method of claim 18 further comprising growing a mature dihaploid homozygous Festuca plant from either said plant or said progeny retained in (d) or from said somatic sector recovered in (d), wherein said adult dihaploid homozygous Festuca plant comprises a karyotype with a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equivalent to the chromosome number of said Festuca male parent and no Lolium chromosomes.

21. The method of claim 18 wherein said Festuca species male parent is Tall Fescue, Festuca arundinaceae, and said mature plants comprise a karyotype of 42 Festuca chromosomes

22. The method of claim 18 wherein said Lolium multiflorum diploid line used as the maternal parent is selected from the group consisting of IL-1 (ATCC deposit accession no. PTA-10229) and progeny thereof.

23. The method of claim 18 wherein said Lolium multiflorum diploid line used as the maternal parent is selected from the group consisting of IL-2 (ATCC deposit accession no. PTA-10315) and progeny thereof.

24. The method of claim 18 wherein said mature plants comprise extranuclear genes and cytoplasm of Lolium multiflorum genes.

25. The method of claim 18 further comprising: e) identifying somatic sectors in said F1 plants or in plants which are progeny thereof in which somatic sectors appear as ryegrass growing shoots comprising a dihaploid homozygous Lolium karyotype with all Lolium chromosomes and no Festuca chromosomes; and f) retaining said F1 plants or said progeny in (e) which are identified as possessing said somatic sectors which appear as ryegrass, or recovering said somatic sectors which appear as ryegrass, therefrom; wherein said somatic sectors which appear as ryegrass develop into mature plants comprising dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum comprising a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes and no Festuca chromosomes.

26. A dihaploid homozygous Festuca species produced by the process of claim 18, comprising extranuclear genes of Lolium multiflorum.

27. The dihaploid homozygous Festuca species produced by the process of claim 21, comprising extranuclear genes of Lolium multiflorum.

28. The dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum produced by the process of claim 9.

29. The dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum produced by the process of claim 25.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 1.19(e) of U.S. provisional 61/101,218, filed Sep. 30, 2008, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a novel diploid Lolium multiflorum line and a method of using the same to produce dihaploid homozygous Lolium and Festuca species.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Turf and forage grass cultivars are essentially germplasm synthetics segregating for a multitude of genes. Most if not all forage grass cultivars are developed from traditional mass, phenotypic recurrent or half-sib selection methods. However, the availability of homozygous lines, also called inbred lines, can provide completely new approaches for breeding and grass cultivar development. In one application, such dihaploid lines could be utilized for F1 hybrid development, taking advantage of the power of heterosis to increase biomass production, increase stress resistance, increase insect and disease resistance, etc.

However, the successful, reproducible development of such hybrids would require the availability of true breeding, homozygous dihaploid parental lines. Currently, the only techniques for generating homozygous dihaploid Fescue is through the use of anther-microspore culture, followed by genome doubling techniques. These techniques are time consuming, labor intensive, and unpredictable due to the unknown genetic predisposition that a segregating germplasm may exhibit toward such culture and genome doubling techniques. Essentially, this is an unpredictable approach for the generation of homozygous lines since only trial and error, and experience can be used to determine which particular cultivars are amendable to such a technique.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Novel ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, lines, referred to herein as inducer lines, have been discovered which may be crossed with species representing the genus of Fescue, Festuca, with the interspecific hybrid subsequently incurring genome loss to produce Fescue and Lolium (ryegrass) dihaploid individuals that are homozygous for all loci across each species respective genomes. In addition, dihaploid amphidiploid Lolium-Fescue lines also are a result of the original hybridizations. These L. multiflorum inducer lines are either fully pollen fertile, partially sterile (leaky) or completely pollen sterile, and are characterized by the property that upon interspecific hybridization as the maternal parent using a Festuca species as the male parent, confer to the resultant sterile F1 interspecific hybrids, the ability to lose either the Lolium or Festuca genome via somatic loss during megaspore (egg) development; followed by a low level of a parthenogenic seed development response, that results in the production of some seed in the panicle which exhibits a viable embryo and the lack of a normally developed endosperm. When sown, seedlings originating from these parthenogenic seed produce an F2 generation where at least some of which are dihaploid homozygous Festuca lines comprising a karyotype exhibiting a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes, equivalent to the chromosome number of their Festuca parent, with a complete absence of all Lolium chromosomes. Other F2 plants are produced as well, including dihaploid homozygous Lolium having a complete loss of the Festuca genome; and homozygous amphidiploids which have no loss in either the Lolium or Fescue genome.

Dihaploid homozygous Festuca species may also be generated directly from these same F1 interspecific hybrids without the need for parthenogenic seed development and the subsequent F2 generation. During the growth cycle of the F1 interspecific hybrids, many of the F1 plants eventually form somatic sectors that result from the complete loss of all their ryegrass genome and appear phenotypically as Fescue growing shoots. Sectors having only this haploid Fescue chromosome constitution spontaneously double, resulting in a dihaploid fescue sector possessing a full complement of the parental fescue genome. These Fescue somatic sectors can be retained, and will develop into mature, dihaploid homozygous Festuca plants possessing a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equivalent to the chromosome number of the Festuca paternal parent with a complete absence of Lolium chromosomes.

Mature dihaploid homozygous Festuca plants produced from the interspecific hybridization using either of the above-mentioned techniques are fertile, and may be utilized in crosses with other dihaploid Festuca recoveries to produce true F1 hybrid Festuca or can be combined in a series of hybridizations to develop polycross hybrid populations.

In accordance with this discovery, it is an object of this invention to provide a novel ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, line that may be used to produce dihaploid homozygous Festuca species.

Another object of this invention to provide novel ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, lines that may be used to produce not only dihaploid homozygous Festuca species but also dihaploid homozygous Lolium species and/or homozygous Lolium-Fescue amphidiploids.

A further object of this invention is to provide a method for producing dihaploid homozygous Festuca lines which are effective as inbred lines and may be crossed with any other dihaploid Fescue recovery to produce true F1 hybrid Fescue.

Yet another object of this invention to provide a simple, reproducible, and relatively fast method for producing dihaploid homozygous Festuca species.

Other objects and advantages of this invention will become readily apparent from the ensuing description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a diagram of dihaploid generation via parthogenesis in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 shows a diagram of dihaploid generation via chimeral sectors in the F1 or F2 generations in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A sample of at least 2,500 seeds of each of the preferred novel ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, lines of this invention, referred to herein as inducer line IL-1 and inducer line IL-2, and which may be used to produce dihaploid homozygous Festuca species, have been deposited under the conditions of the Budapest Treaty with the American Type Culture Collection (10801 University Blvd, Manassas, Va., 20110-2209, USA) on Jul. 22, 2009, and Aug. 28, 2009, respectively, and have been assigned deposit accession nos. ATCC PTA-10229 and ATCC PTA-10315, respectively.

The inducer lines of this invention are Lolium multiflorum (Italian ryegrass or annual ryegrass) a diploid (2n=2x=14), herbaceous annual grass, exhibiting phenotypic traits typical of this species as described by Wheeler (Forage and Pasture Crops, A Handbook of Information about the Grasses and Legumes Grown for Forage in the United States. Van Nostrand Company. New York. 1950. pp. 537-541) and Quattrocchi (CRC World Dictionary of Grasses: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 2006. p. 2408), the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein. The inducer line IL-1 is a leaky pollen sterile line that is uniquely characterized by its ability, upon interspecific hybridization as a maternal parent with a Festuca species being used as the paternal parent to 1) confer to the resultant sterile F1 interspecific hybrids the ability to generate a low level of a parthenogenic response and produce some seed in the panicle (i.e., seed heads) that possess a viable embryo; and 2) induce genome loss following the interspecific hybridization as described herein.

Induction of genome loss following interspecific hybridization generates dihaploid homozygous Festuca species comprising a karyotype (nuclear genome) of Festuca chromosomes equal to the chromosome number of the Festuca male parent (i.e., they retain a full complement of Festuca chromosomes with their chromosome number being the same as the Festuca male parent) with no Lolium chromosomes. Possessing a full complement of Festuca chromosomes and no Lolium chromosomes, these dihaploid homozygous Festuca species appear as normal Fescue plants. For example, in a preferred embodiment using Tall Fescue, Festuca arundinaceae (also referred to as Lolium arundinaceae), as the male parent, the resultant dihaploid homozygous Festuca comprise a karyotype of 42 Festuca chromosomes. Alternatively, using Meadow Fescue, F. pratensis, as the male parent, the resultant dihaploid homozygous Festuca would comprise a karyotype of 14 Festuca chromosomes. As described in detail herein below, depending upon the particular technique used, other dihaploid homozygous plants, including dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum, as well as dihaploid homozygous amphidiploids may also be recovered. The dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum plants comprise a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes and appear as normal ryegrass plants, while the generation of amphidiploids do not undergo genome loss, but result only from spontaneous genome doubling, and comprise a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes (representative of the maternal parent) and Festuca chromosomes equal to the chromosome number of the Festuca male parent (e.g., 42 Festuca chromosomes when using Tall Fescue). Significantly, these dihaploid homozygous Lolium multiflorum may be used as new inducer lines for interspecific hybridization with Fescue as described herein. Although any of these dihaploid homozygous Lolium may be recovered and used as inducers as described herein, it is preferable to utilize those recoveries that appear healthy and vigorous. Moreover, these dihaploid homozygous Lolium may be used directly as inducers in crosses without requiring a generation of seed production or offspring from such seed.

For the purpose of this invention, any fully pollen fertile, completely pollen sterile or partially pollen sterile Lolium multiflorum, having the identifying characteristics of line IL-1, including progeny or variants thereof which retain the ability, upon interspecific hybridization as a maternal parent with a Festuca species as the paternal parent, to 1) confer to the resultant sterile F1 interspecific hybrids the ability to generate a low level of a parthenogenic response and produce some seed in the panicle that possess a viable embryo; and 2) induce genome loss following the interspecific hybridization, are effective as inducers. The term variant is defined herein to include transformants and mutants of line IL-1. For example, in accordance with this invention, the IL-1 line may be modified to include heterologous genes and/or mutations in the genes therein. Transformation techniques which may be used herein include but are not limited to microparticle gene transfer such as described by Lowe et al. (1995, Bio/Technology, 13:677-682), pollen transformation techniques such as described by Ohta (1986, Proc. Nat'l Acad. Sci. USA, 83:715-719), Smith et al. (1994, Plant Science, 104:49-58), and deWet (International Patent Application WO 85/01856), electroporation techniques such as described by Rhodes (1988, Science, 240:204-207), Krzyzk et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,384,253), and viral transformation such as described by Langenberg et al. (U.S. Pat. No. 5,416,010). Techniques for introducing mutations include but are not limited to conventional chemical or irradiation techniques for random mutagenesis, or insertional or site directed point mutagenesis processes such as described by Neuffer [“Induction of Genetic Variability”, In: Maize Breeding and Genetics, Walden (ed.), 1978, pp. 579-600]. The contents of each of the above-mentioned references are incorporated by reference herein.

As noted above, additional inducer lines may be developed from the inducer line IL-1. Two of these new lines, referred to herein as IL-2 and IL-3, were each derived from single plant selections from the original IL-1 population. Because IL-1 is a “leaky” pollen sterile population that segregates a range of sterility levels, additional inducer lines can be generated from IL-1 through typical plant selection procedures. One such method involves examination of individual plants within the IL-1 population, with inducer lines IL-2 and IL-3 being selected from IL1 on the basis of their higher level of pollen sterility and improved vigor, both in comparison to the overall or mean of the IL-1 population. Thus, both IL-2 and IL-3 have a narrower genetic base (defined herein as reduced or limited genetic variation) than their IL-1 parent). However, since 112 and IL3 represent two different, individual plant selections, they will possess differing genotypes from IL1 and each other. Both IL-2 and IL-3 exhibit a significantly increased level of pollen sterility, increased plant height, and shorter time to flower, than IL-1. Of these, IL-2 is particularly preferred as it exhibits the greatest increase in the level of pollen sterility and plant height, and the shortest time to flower. Each of IL-2 and IL-3 are Lolium multiflorum (Italian ryegrass or annual ryegrass) a diploid (2n=2x=14), herbaceous annual grass, exhibiting phenotypic traits typical of this species as described by Wheeler (ibid) and Quattrocchi (ibid). Each of IL-2 and IL-3 are also effective inducer lines, and as such are characterized by their ability, upon interspecific hybridization as a maternal parent with a Festuca species being used as the paternal parent to 1) confer to the resultant sterile F1 interspecific hybrids the ability to generate a low level of a parthenogenic response and produce some seed in the panicle (i.e., seed heads) that possess a viable embryo; and 2) induce genome loss following the interspecific hybridization as described herein. In addition, both IL2 and IL3 also provide for the allowance of somatic sectors in the generated F1 hybrids which can result in the further generation of DH Lolium lines.

Another aspect of this invention is to provide for cells which upon growth and differentiation produce Lolium multiflorum plants which are effective as inducer lines, such that upon interspecific hybridization as a maternal parent with a Festuca species as the paternal parent, they 1) confer to the resultant sterile F1 interspecific hybrids the ability to generate a low level of a parthenogenic response and produce some seed in the panicle that possess a viable embryo; and 2) induce genome loss following the interspecific hybridization. Thus, as used herein, the term “L. multiflorum plant or parts thereof” includes plant cells, plant protoplasts, plant cells of tissue culture from which L. multiflorum plants can be regenerated, plant calli, plant clumps, as well as plant cells that are intact in plants or parts of plants such as, seed, flowers, embryos, ovules, roots, root tips, pollen, leaves, stalks, and the like.

The L. multiflorum inducer lines of this invention are stably maintained by conventional intercrossing or selfing.

In a first preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 1, the L. multiflorum inducer line is crossed as a maternal parent with any desired Festuca species being utilized as the paternal parent, and the resultant F1 interspecific hybrid seed is sown and allowed to grow into F1 plants, whereby they can mature and flower. The F1 plants comprise a karyotype of 7 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes plus a contributed haploid chromosome set from the paternal Festuca parent (e.g. 21 Festuca chromosomes when using Festuca arundinaceae, 7 chromosomes when using Festuca pratensis, etc.) As is typical for most wide cross or interspecific hybrids with unbalanced genomes or differing chromosome number contributions, the F1 plants are typically both pollen and seed sterile. However, despite this sterility, a low level of parthenogenesis produces some seed in the panicle that possess a viable embryo; and lacks an obvious endosperm. The seed heads from the F1 plants are collected, preferably rubbed to remove seed husks surrounding the parthenogenic seed, then sown and allowed to grow, such that any of those of seeds that have developed embryos via parthenogenesis will develop into F2 plants. The F2 plants that are recovered are primarily (nearly 50% each) diploid homozygous Fescue with no Lolium chromosomes (comprising a karyotype of a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equal to the chromosome number of the Festuca paternal parent, 42 when using Tall Fescue) and diploid homozygous ryegrass with no Festuca chromosomes (comprising a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes representative of the maternal parent). A low frequency of mixed genotypes are also produced, most notably amphidiploids which comprise a karyotype of 14 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes (representative of the maternal parent) plus Festuca chromosomes equal to the chromosome number of the Festuca paternal parent (42 when using Tall Fescue, providing a total chromosome number of 56).

The recovered F1 or F2 dihaploid homozygous Festuca's and Lolium's are not genetically identical to their parents since each interspecific hybrid represents a randomly generated haploid gamete/egg provided from each parent. In fact, each dihaploid Lolium or Festuca recovery represents only a single possible gene combination out of billions of possibilities. Essentially, the generation of the interspecific hybrids is a form of gamete selection through the pollen (in the case of the Festuca parent) or through the egg (in the case of the Lolium parent). The dihaploid Lolium and Festuca and amphidiploid recoveries are both male and female fertile and maintain their dihaploid genotypes by selfing or sibbing; they remain fixed at all loci (dihaploid), and are suitable for potential use as inbred lines for mapping studies, population development, selection, and breeding. Moreover, since the dihaploids are generated utilizing the Lolium as the maternal parent in the interspecific cross, all of the progeny, including the F2 dihaploid homozygous Festuca and homozygous amphidiploids, will retain the extranuclear genes and cytoplasm (including mitochondrial or cytoplasm and chloroplasts) of the Lolium multiflorum inducer parent. The presence of Lolium extranuclear genes in the dihaploid homozygous Festuca allows these plants to be readily distinguished from any dihaploid homozygous Festuca which might be produced using conventional techniques, such as use of anther-microspore culture followed by chromosome doubling. Extranuclear Lolium genes may be detected, for example, by conventional mitochondrial DNA or cytoplasmic analysis techniques [McGrath, Hodkinson, Salamin and Barth, 2006; Development and testing of novel chloroplast microsatellite markers for Lolium perenne and other grasses (Poaceae) from de novo sequencing and in silico sequences. Molecular Ecology Notes 6:449-452]

In an alternative preferred embodiment shown in FIG. 2, the dihaploid homozygous Festuca species may be produced directly from the same F1 interspecific hybrids described above, without the need for generating an F2 generation. In this embodiment, the L. multiflorum inducer line is crossed as the maternal parent with a Festuca species as the paternal parent to generate sterile F1 interspecific hybrid plants in the same manner as described above. Again, these F1 hybrids initially comprise a karyotype of 7 Lolium multiflorum chromosomes plus 21 Festuca chromosomes if, as example, an F. arundinaceae is utilized as the paternal parent. During the growth stage of the F1 interspecific hybrids, many of the F1 hybrids eventually form somatic (chimeral) sectors that have lost all of their ryegrass genome (7R) and retain only the Fescue chromosomes. The occurrence of this event is random and can occur early on; such as the seedling stage or very late in the plants growth phase such as the flowering stage. These chimeral sectors appear as Fescue growing shoots (i.e., apical meristems) from the F1 plant. Loss of the ryegrass genome is due to somatic loss or ryegrass genome instability in the interspecific hybrid condition. These Fescue somatic sectors will have their Festuca genome double spontaneously, without induction, generating a dihaploid homozygous Festuca sector (tiller) possessing a full balanced complement of Festuca chromosomes and no Lolium chromosomes. The Fescue somatic sectors can be readily identified and distinguished from ryegrass sectors and the ryegrass-Fescue hybrid by their appearance as normal Fescue, that is, exhibiting often wider leaves, rough leaf texture, alteration in leaf color and at flowering maturity, and a typical Fescue inflorescence/panicle.

These Fescue somatic sector regions may be removed and transferred to another pot, and will develop into mature, fertile dihaploid homozygous Festuca individuals, fixed for all loci, and comprising a karyotype of a balanced genome of Festuca chromosomes equal to the chromosome number of the Festuca paternal parent (42 when using Tall Fescue) with no Lolium chromosomes. The Fescue somatic sectors may be removed from the interspecific hybrid and transferred to pots or field nursery. The fescue sectors, are perennial and can be maintained indefinitely by vegetative propagation or via seed. As in the previous embodiment, the resultant F2 dihaploid homozygous Festuca plants will retain the extranuclear genes (mitochondrial DNA and cytoplasm) of Lolium multiflorum. Although the process has been described as identifying and retaining Fescue somatic sectors from the F1 generation of plants, it is understood that Fescue somatic sectors can also develop in any subsequent generation of hybrid plants that may possess a haploid set of chromosomes from the Lolium of Festuca parents (e.g., 28 chromosomes in the case of Festuca arundinaceae (7Lolium+21F. arundinaceae) such as the F2, F3, or later generations, which are produced from seed harvested from the panicles in the same manner as the previous embodiment.

Interspecific hybridization of the L. multiflorum inducer lines to generate dihaploid homozygous Festuca may be practiced with any Fescue species, provided that the Fescue is used as the paternal parent. Without being limited thereto, preferred Fescue species include Meadow Fescue, F. pratensis, and particularly Tall Fescue, F. arundinaceae.

The dihaploid homozygous Festuca and dihaploid homozygous Lolium plants produced from the interspecific hybridization using either of the above mentioned techniques are fertile, and are inbred lines. Therefore, the plants may be used in the production of true F1 hybrids with any dihaploid line obtained from a like Fescue or Lolium species. Preferably, for the generation of true F1 hybrids, the dihaploid homozygous Festuca should be crossed with a dihaploid line representing the same Festuca species of interest.

The following examples are intended only to further illustrate the invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention that is defined by the claims.

Example 1

Dihaploid Tall Fescue plants were produced using the process of the invention and examined to confirm that they were homozygous/inbred lines.

In brief, the L. multiflorum inducer line IL-1 was crossed as the maternal parent with Tall Fescue, F. arundinaceae, as the paternal parent (pollen source) grown in a greenhouse. F1 interspecific hybrid seed is collected and planted into individual pots, and the F1 plants were allowed to grow, mature, and flower. After the panicle or seed heads matured, the seed heads were collected, gently ground, and sown in fresh potting soil. F2 plants were allowed to grow and plants appearing as normal Fescue by their broad leaves were examined and confirmed to be dihaploid Tall Fescue, containing 42 Fescue chromosomes with no Lolium chromosomes. Four of the dihaploid Fescue plants were retained for further analysis.

The four retained dihaploid Fescue plants were each selfed, and the seed was collected, planted, and allowed to grow. The offspring derived from the selfing were analyzed by PCR-EST-SSR using eight highly discriminatory Tall Fescue markers. All offspring from each selfing were confirmed to be identical to each other by molecular analysis and were phenotypically identical to each other and their F2 dihaploid Fescue parent.

The identical molecular marker patterns exhibited across the offspring; and, their identical pattern to their F2 dihaploid parent, indicate a genetic uniformity and genetic homozygosity of the lines, allowing for the usage of the descriptive term ‘dihaploid’ to the F2 parent and its selfed generated offspring. These data also indicate the ability of the dihaploids to breed true to type by sibbing or selfing (i.e., uniformity with no genetic segregation).

It is understood that the foregoing detailed description is given merely by way of illustration and that modifications and variations may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.