Polyploidy and sexual polyploidization in the genus Vaccinium

P. M. Lyrene, N. Vorsa, J. R. Ballington

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Genus Vaccinium, consisting of blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries and many related wild species, includes diploid, tetraploid, and hexaploid species. Most evidence indicates that the tetraploid species are autotetraploids, with non-preferential bivalent chromosome pairing. Although homoploid interspecific crosses usually produce numerous fertile hybrids if the parents are from the same section of the genus, intersectional crosses at the diploid level normally produce no seedlings, weak seedlings, or seedlings that are very low in fertility. There is a strong but not complete triploid block within Vaccinium. Even within sections, tetraploid x diploid (and the reciprocal) crosses normally give only a few tetraploid and a few triploid hybrids. Hexaploid x diploid crosses within sections are very hard to make, and the few hybrids that have been obtained are pentaploid. The frequency of 2n gametes varies, both among genotypes within species and among species. Vaccinium pollen is normally shed in tetrads, and the frequency of large pollen grains shed in dyads can be used to estimate 2n gamete frequency. Cultivated blueberries occur at both the tetraploid and the hexaploid levels, and there are important genetic resources in the diploids. Unreduced gamete production has permitted transfer of genetic material from the diploid to the tetraploid level and from the diploids and tetraploids to the hexaploid level via triploid hybrids. Intersectional crosses can occasionally produce tetraploid Vaccinium hybrids that appear to behave as amphidiploids and have medium to high fertility. Commercial Vaccinium cultivars are normally propagated by cuttings. Intersectional hybridization, chromosome doubling, and asexual propagation could permit the production of novel hybrid combinations with value as ornamentals or in fruit production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


  • 2n gametes
  • Amphidiploidy
  • Autopolyploidy
  • Blueberry
  • Hybridization
  • Plant breeding
  • Triploid block
  • Unreduced gametes

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