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    Juglans nigra and Juglans regia are phylogenetically divergent species. Despite the economic interest in Juglans×intermedia (J. nigra×J. regia), walnut hybridization is rare under natural conditions and still difficult using controlled pollination. Here, we evaluated some reproductive mechanisms that may prevent successful natural hybridization. The study of flowering phenology of 11 J. nigra and 50 J. regia trees growing in a plantation provided information regarding the opportunity for interspecific crosses. Variation in flower size, pollen quality of putative donors, and variation in seed yield and rate of hybrid production among putative maternal trees were examined. DNA fingerprinting and parentage analyses based on nine microsatellites permitted the identification of hybrids and hybridogenic parent. Our data indicated that overlap occurred between the staminate flowering of protogynous J. regia and the beginning of pistillate flowering of protogynous J. nigra. Differences in floral size were computed between walnut species. Only three hybrids among 422 offspring of eleven J. nigra progenies were identified. Interspecific hybridization involving pollination of one early-flowering-protogynous J. nigra by three protogynous J. regia trees was detected. The correct development of J. regia male gametophytes, high pollen viability (86.5 %), and germination (57.6 %) ruled out the possibility that low pollen quality contributed to depressed hybrid production. Our findings indicated that these two species tended to remain reproductively isolated. The substantial disjunction in flowering time and additional prezygotic barriers such as differences in floral size and conspecific pollen advance may affect interspecific gene flow between J. regia and J. nigra.

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    Pollegioni, Paola; Olimpieri, Irene; Woeste, Keith E.; De Simoni, Giovanni; Gras, Maria; Malvolti, Maria E. 2013. Barriers to interspecific hybridization between Juglans nigra L. and J. regia L species. Tree Genetics & Genomes. 9(1): 291-305.


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    Walnut hybridization, SSR fingerprinting, Prezygotic barriers, Bloom synchrony, Conspecific pollen advance, Floral differences

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