Malformation of gynoecia impedes fertilisation in bud-flowering Calluna vulgaris


  • Editor
    S. Wick

A. Hohe, Leibniz-Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Kuehnhaeuser Strasse 101, 99189 Erfurt, Germany.


In Calluna vulgaris, a common bedding plant during autumn in the northern hemisphere, the bud-blooming mutation of flower morphology is of high economic importance. Breeding of new bud-blooming cultivars suffers from poor seed set in some of the desirable bud-flowering crossing partners. In the current study, fertilisation and seed development in genotypes with good or poor seed set were monitored in detail in order to examine pre- and post-zygotic cross breeding incompatibilities. Whereas no distinct differences were detected in seed development, pollen tube growth was impeded in the pistils of genotypes characterised by poor seed set. Detailed microscopic analysis revealed malformations of the gynoecia due to imperfect fusion of carpels. Hence, a pre-zygotic mechanism hindering pollen tube growth due to malformation of gynoecia was deduced. An interaction of putative candidate genes involved in malformation of gynoecia with floral organ identity genes controlling the flower architecture is discussed.