Relationships among genetic distance, forage yield and heterozygosity in isogenic diploid and tetraploid alfalfa populations

K. K. Kidwell, E. T. Bingham, D. R. Woodfield, T. C. Osborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Isogenic diploid and tetraploid alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) was studied with molecular markers to help understand why diploid performance and breeding behavior does not always predict that of tetraploids. In a previous study of partially heterozygous alfalfa genotypes, we detected a low correlation between yields of isogenic diploid (2 x) and tetraploid (4 x) single-cross progenies, and genetic distances were more highly correlated with yields of tetraploids than diploids. These differences may be related to the level of RFLP heterozygosity expected among progenies derived from heterozygous parents at the two ploidy levels. The objectives of this study were to determine the relationships among genetic distance, forage yield and heterozygosity in isogenic 2 x and 4 x alfalfa populations. Four diploid genotypes were chromosome doubled to produce corresponding isogenic autotetraploids, and these genotypes were mated in 4 × 4 diallels to produce 6 single-cross families at each ploidy level for field evaluation. Allele compositions of parents were determined at 33 RFLP loci by monitoring segregation of homologous restriction fragments among individuals within progenies, and these were used to estimate RFLP heterozygosity levels for all single-cross progenies at both ploidy levels. RFLP heterozygosity rankings were identical between progenies of isogenic diploid and tetraploid parents; but significant associations (P < 0.05) between estimated heterozygosity levels and forage yield were detected only at the tetraploid level. Since tetraploid families were nearly 25% more heterozygous than the corresponding diploid families, inconsistencies in the association between molecular marker diversity and forage yields of isogenic 2 x and 4 x single crosses may be due to recessive alleles that are expressed in diploids but masked in tetraploids. The gene action involved in heterosis may be the same at both ploidy levels; however, tetraploids benefit from greater complementary gene interactions than are possible for equivalent diploids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Alfalfa
  • Genetic diversity
  • Heterozygosity
  • Medicago sativa L
  • RFLPs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Relationships among genetic distance, forage yield and heterozygosity in isogenic diploid and tetraploid alfalfa populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this