Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Department name when degree awarded

Crop Breeding

Committee Chair(s)

Douglas R. Dewey, Wade G. Dewey


Douglas R. Dewey


Wade G. Dewey


Orson S. Cannon


Rollo W. Woodward


Fairway crested wheatgrass, which is identified taxonomically as Agropyron cristatum (L . ) Gaertn. (45 ), A. cristatiforme (38) , or A. pectiniforme Roem. and Schult (22), is an economically important range grass belonging to the "crested wheatgrass complex" (24, 38). The crested wheatgrass complex includes diploid, 2n = 14, tetraploid, 2n = 28, and hexaploid, 2n = 42, forms (1, 11, 22). The variety Fairway and Fairway-like derivatives are the only known diploid members of the species complex (24, 38). Meiotic chromosome behavior of Fairway diploids appears to be typical of other diploid species; however, the number of plants examined cytologically has been relatively small.

Although Fairway crested wheatgrass is a good seed producer, interplant variation in fertility is high (13, 22, 25, 42). Irregular chromosome behavior is a common source of sterility and may be contributing to the variable seed set in diploid crested wheatgrass. No information is available concerning the relation of meiotic chromosome behavior to fertility in Fairway crested wheatgrass.

Polyploid crested wheatgrasses are generally considered to be of autoploid origin, i.e., they are derived by duplication of the chromosome complement of a diploid prototype. Chromosome pairing in the polyploid species (31), in interspecific hybrids (12), and in polyhaploid plants (11) substantiate the autoploid derivation of polyploid crested wheatgrass. Diploid and tetraploid forms of crested wheatgrass have been hybridized by Knowles (24), and chromosome pairing in the hybrids suggest a close relation between the diploid and tetraploid genomes. Colchicine-induced tetraploids of Fairway crested wheatgrass have been produced by Knowles, 1 and these artificial tetraploids are currently being utilized in his crested wheatgrass breeding program.

If the full breeding and cytogenetic potentials of diploid crested wheatgrass are to be realized, the meiotic chromosome behavior and the cytotaxonomic status of this species must be fully understood. The present investigation was designed to provide further information concerning the cytogenetic characteristics of Fairway crested wheatgrass and its autotetraploid derivatives. This investigation was established with the following objectives:

1. To examine meiotic chromosome behavior of Fairway crested wheatgrass.

2. To determine the relation of meiotic chromosome behavior to fertility in Fairway crested wheatgrass.

3. To evaluate the effectiveness of several colchicine treatments in doubling the chromosome complement of Fairway crested wheatgrass.

4. To determine the effect of induced polyploidy on plant morphology in colchicine-induced tetraploids of Fairway crested wheatgrass.

5. To determine the meiotic chromosome behavior and fertility of induced tetraploids of Fairway crested wheatgrass.



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