Frequency of Outcrossing and Isolation Distance in Faba Beans (Vicia faba L.)
Faba beans (Vicia faba L.) constitute a partially outcrossing species requiring an isolation distance to maintain genetic purity when more than one variety is grown in field conditions. This information is crucial for seed growers and faba bean breeders. A study was conducted at the University of Sydney’s Plant Breeding Institute, Narrabri, over two years to examine the extent of natural outcrossing using a creamy white flower characteristic as a morphological marker, which is controlled by a single recessive gene. The white-flowered genotype (IX225c) was grown in paired rows of 150 m length in four directions from a central 480 m2 plot of the normal flowered genotype PBA Warda. A beehive was placed in the central plot at the flowering time and natural pollination was allowed. At maturity, seed samples were taken from the white-flowered genotype at designated intervals along each axis and 100 seeds from each sample were grown in the glasshouse/birdcage to the 4–5 leaf stage and the proportion of plants displaying a stipule spot pigmentation (normal flower color and spotted stipule are linked) was used to determine the percentage of outcrossing. Maximum outcrossing of 2.28% occurred where both genotypes were grown side by side (0 m) and the degree of outcrossing decreased as the distance along each axis from the central plot increased. At a 6 m distance, the outcrossing was less than 1%; however, on occasion, it increased to 1% beyond a distance of 100 m, indicating the volatile and unpredictable nature of bee flights. Distance had a major effect on outcrossing but the direction and its interaction had no effect. The results suggest that to limit outcrossing to below 0.5%, a distance of more than 150 m between plots of different faba beans cultivars would be required. It also indicated that Australian faba bean genotypes are mostly self-fertile and a relatively narrow isolation distance will ensure self-fertilization in seed production and breeding programs.
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