Protoplast fusion allows the transfer of both mono- and polygenic traits between species that are sexually incompatible. This approach has particular relevance for potato, and somatic hybridisation has been used to introduce a range of disease resistance genes from sexually incompatible wild species into the cultivated potato gene pool. In addition, protoplast fusion allows the resynthesis of tetraploid genotypes from pre-selected diploid or dihaploid donor parents. A limiting factor for the efficient exploitation of this technology in potato breeding is the difficulty of unequivocally identifying nuclear hybrids (heterokaryons). In order to facilitate the identification of hybrids at an early stage following fusion, Randomly Amplified Polymorphic DNA markers (RAPDs) have been used to characterise molecularly both inter- and intra-specific somatic hybrids of potato. RAPD markers detect naturally occurring polymorphism in the donor genotypes and utilise short oligonucleotide primers of arbitrary nucleotide sequence in combination with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The exploitation of RAPDs in the characterisation of both somatic and sexual hybrids is discussed.
- Molecular markers
- Somatic hybrids