Albinism in plants: A major bottleneck in wide hybridization, androgenesis and doubled haploid culture


Albinism is a common problem encountered in interspecific crosses and tissue culture experiments including anther culture and generation of doubled haploids. It is characterized by partial or complete loss of chlorophyll pigments and incomplete differentiation of chloroplast membranes. This in turn impairs photosynthesis and the plants eventually die at a young stage without reaching maturity. Environmental conditions such as light, temperature, media composition and culture conditions play some role in determining the frequency of albino plant formation. Genetic factors are even more important, and are major determinants in albinism. Genetic studies in different crops show that it is a recessive trait governed by many loci. Both the nuclear and chloroplast genomes affect albinism and incompatibilities between the two are a probable cause of many pigment defects in hybrid progenies. Such incompatibility has been reported in a large number of angiosperms. The mechanisms behind these incompatibilities are poorly understood. Studies of plastid DNA inheritance together with observations using electron microscopy have established that the transmission of plastids can be maternal, paternal or biparental, even within the same genus, especially following wide crosses; contrary to the widespread belief that plastids are almost always transmitted from the maternal parent. Albinism has been overcome in some crop species through somatic hybridization and development of cybrids (cytoplasmic hybrids). However, the strict requirement of efficient protoplast regeneration is a major limitation of these techniques. This review focuses on albinism following interspecific crosses or development of doubled haploids facilitated by tissue culture experiments, underlying mechanisms, and the possibilities for dealing with this important biotechnological limitation.



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