What is polyembryony and how can it be commercially exploited?
Polyembryony may be defined as the occurrence of two or more embryos in one ovule which consequently results in the emergence of multiple seedlings. It can be commercially exploited as disease free plants can be obtained by this method and it also increases the probability of survival under varied conditions.
Hybrid varieties of several of our food and vegetable crops are being extensively cultivated. Cultivation of hybrids has tremendously increased productivity. One of the problems of hybrids is that hybrid seeds have to be produced every year. If the seeds collected from hybrids are sown, the plants in the progeny will segregate and do not maintain hybrid characters. Production of hybrid seeds is costly and hence the cost of hybrid seeds become too expensive for the farmers. If these hybrids are made into apomicts (polyembryony is exhibited by some), there is no segregation of characters in the hybrid progeny. Then the farmers can keep on using the hybrid seeds to raise new crop year after year and he does not have to buy hybrid seeds every year. Because of the importance of apomixis in hybrid seed industry, active research is going on in many laboratories around the world to understand the genetics of apomixis and to transfer apomictic genes into hybrid varieties.