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HYB: Direction of Cross

From: Sharon McAllister <73372.1745@compuserve.com>

Bill Kuykendall wrote:

<         Actually, from what little I know about iris genetics, the
reverse cross might be even more likely to yield what I desire (in terms of
iris, at least...).  The seedlings perhaps draw slightly more influence
from the female parent in terms of plant habits, for the female's
mitochondrial DNA (or RNA?) contribute toward the stalwart nature of the
offspring, and the male parent has a slight edge in effecting the flower
form and color of the next generation.  Right, wrong, or half-right?    >

In my experience, half-right. 

I've noticed that the growth habits do more closely resemble those of the
pod parent.   Sam Norris attributes it to all cytoplasmic DNA, not just the
mitochondrial DNA -- and I certainly can't dispute that.  In practical
terms, that means making plant characteristics an important factor in the
choice of pod parents.

I have yet, however, to observe the pollen parent having an edge w.r.t any
trait.  Rather, its advantage is a numerical one.  One flower can produce
ten times as many seeds when used as the pollen parent as when used as the
pod parent.  WHIRLWIND ROMANCE, for example, has produced equally
spectacular flowers for me regardless of the direction of the cross.  But
when I find a breeder that performs exceptionally well, I tend to use up
every bit of its pollen.  That means many more seedlings with it as pollen
parent than pod parent -- and probably more introductions from that pool. 
Someone analyzing the ratio of  selected seedlings might well conclude that
something performs best as pollen parent, when in reality the direction of
the cross does not affect the proportion of outstanding seedlings.

Sharon McAllister

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