Domestication in real time: The curious case of a trigenomic sunflower population

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This study chronicles the ongoing process to domesticate an interspecific trigenomic tetraploid hybrid sunflower derived from a series of interspecific crosses between Helianthus annuus and Helianthus tuberosus. The goal of this process is to develop a perennial oilseed crop that can produce both high value vegetable oil and continuous ground-cover. Selection has focused on developing an ideotype with the domesticated morphology of H. annuus and the below-ground perennial features of H. tuberosus. The overarching challenge in the process of breeding and domesticating this interspecific perennial sunflower is overcoming obstacles associated with interploid meiosis in order to resolve a chromosomally stable hybrid population. As selection progresses through generations of intermating, there are improvements toward the desired ideotype, but selection efficiency is slowed by apparent antagonisms between annual- and perennial morphological targets and irregular meiosis which is especially problematic in a trigenomic tetraploid. This shows that keys toward perennial crop development through interspecific hybridization will be to capitalize on the abundant phenotypic variation within our population, achieve meiotic stability in order to maximize selection efficiency, and to break genetic correlations between annual and perennial traits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9110704
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 31 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by the University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative and the University of Minnesota Varietal Development Fund and HATCH award 71-055 and MN Department of Agriculture Award Number CON000000057187.


  • Domestication
  • Fertility
  • Helianthus
  • Ideotype
  • Meiosis
  • Perennial crop
  • Polyploidy
  • Wide hybridization


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