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News: Discussion of psychoactive cacti and succulents

Author Topic: Cultivating begins with growing seeds, pollen collecting, and selecting...  (Read 4522 times)

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Offline Inyan

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Outcrossing increases genetic diversity and seed set. Simply put, even with a L. williamsi that may be self-fertile as many of the northern populations of L. williamsi are known to be self-fertile you are going to be increasing the genetic diversity and seed set by controlled pollination between different members, localities, regions, etc. It is well known that all US wild sourced L. williamsi are self-fertile. Some localities or regional variations of L. williamsi such as those found in El Huizache are self-sterile. One obvious choice for increasing genetic diversity and seed set is to use L. williamsi El Huizache as the mother plant and L. williamsi Texana for instance as the pollen donor, although crosses both ways can be done if care is taken to remove the anthers before flowering. L. williamsi El Huizache specimes have a stigma that is carried high above the anthers further inhibiting their ability to self-pollinate. Koehres notes that L. alberto-vojtechii, L. williamsii El Huizache, and L. williamsii Norias del Conde as self-sterile. Additionally, L. koehresii pollen was able to pollinate L. williamsii El Huizache, but not the other way around. Of interest is that neither of these two are self-fertile. L. w. var. Kikko is another variety perhaps worth checking into the genetics of for those interested in making their own crosses.
Pollen is highly variable when it comes to lophophora as anyone who has bothered to look at it in any detail can plainly see. Northern populations of Lophophora have 0-18 apertures whereas those in the southern population have anywhere from 0 to 6 apertures and can produce a wide variety of shapes, about 12 in number of variation. The southern type will develop multiple tuberous roots allowing for tubercles to develop and become independent while the southern forms will have a single root. The southern types from Huizache are heterogamous or in other words not self-fertile. They will have a longer style and a smaller white stigma than the northern forms. Northern forms will be self-fertile with thigmotactic anthers that when touched will bend to touch the stigma and self-pollinate. L. w. Huizache can be found cheaply enough to purchase 10,000 seed a real possibility for most seriously interested in these endeavors…. At least for those interested in large scale production of regional hybrids being that it is not self-fertile it is an excellent candidate to improve the genetic diversity of ones collection. L. w. v. caespitosa from La Perdida would be another excellent selection in my opinion for increasing genetics however.
Crossing barriers can be the result of the activity of the alleles activity on the stigma (sporophytic) or style (gametophytic). This incompatibility can sometimes be bypassed by simply cutting the stigma off and pollinating lower down on the style with an incompatible pollen or through pollen cocktails in which one pollen is deactivated by chemical. Chemical means may include something like exposing compatible pollen to alcohol. You may also want to deactivate a pollen by microwave or placing pollen in an oven. Prefertilization barriers overcome in this way may provide one with viable seed, or one may still have to overcome postfertilization barriers such as is the case when there is fertilization, but the embryo aborts prior to full seed development. This would of course require embryo rescue if postfertilization barriers can’t be overcome. The stigma may be tricked into accepting foreign pollen when the correct species pollen is applied at the same time. This of course means that you will have a high percentage of nonhybrid seedlings if your pollen cocktail dilution is not sufficiently diluted. Again, you may wish to simply kill any unwanted pollen types of the same species by exposing to a microwave for a few minutes or alcohol solution. Time of pollination may also be critical. What is meant by this is that exact timing of your pollination can be critical to getting a foreign pollen to take. A flower that has been opened for a full day may not be as receptive to foreign pollen as a stigma that has just been exposed to the elements. I have had much success getting pollen to take by removing the petals and anthers long before the flower was ready to bloom and pollinating the still undeveloped stigma with some species. Pollen tube growth may also be different from one type of pollen to the next and this may be a limiting factor if your pollen does germinate. What I mean to say by this is that if your pollen comes from a plant in which the style is much shorter than the one you are pollinating then the pollen may germinate and simply fail to grow to the ovaries as the length of travel is simply too much for that pollen to traverse. It is simply genetically programmed or lacks the nutrients to travel the full distance. This is another reason why the cut style method sometimes works. You are not only bypassing any genetic barriers in the stigma, but you are bypassing the length that the pollen has to travel. This works better when the pollen comes from a shorter styled specimen to a longer styled specimen. You may even wish to stimulate the stigma with the correct pollen before cutting the stigma off. Pollen tube growth can also be inhibited by a lack of the correct enzymes in the stigma as well as differing nutrients. One could experiment with this with a proposed cross by grinding or squeezing the juices from the compatible stigma and placing this on the incompatible stigma/pollen cross one is trying to make. This may allow for the germination and subsequent growth of the pollen when placed on an incompatible stigma or cut style. Still, you are not out of the water with all of these precautions as there may be an chemotropic barrier in the ovary itself preventing the pollen tubes from finding the micropyle/ovules.
Suffice it to say, the harder wider the cross is the more likely you are to have aborted embryo’s and tiny malformed seeds found. But, when making much easier crosses with regional variations such as northern limits to southern limits of the same species you are going to increase your genetic potential beyond any that would naturally be found in the wild. Eastern limits to western limits regional crosses may be of interest as well and these types of crosses are well within the limits of any would be hybridizer. A well diluted pollen cocktail of varying strengths can easily be made by anyone wishing to experiment further and need not incorporate dead pollen. A pollen cocktail thus made may limit your seed production if properly done to one or two true species seedlings, but in the rare instance that one of your foreign pollens takes you are going to have additional genetics to play with here as well that may give you something similar to the famed L. jourdaniana. To be sure, even if you come up with something a bit more novel than a L. w. kikko variety or your own version thereof your efforts will not have been in vain even if your left with a pure species variety composed of many different regional variations that has some added benefit such as improved flower color, ease of growth, less susceptibility to damping off, etc. There are many goals to go after and many different seed lots and localities to go after in ones attempts to create something truly novel and unique even while maintaining a specimen in its pure species form and making crosses within the gene pool of a single species in a manner that would never be as diverse as it could be in your own backyard green house.
I would love to see a community started here where the free exchange or even the purchase of pollen or pollen cocktails could be had for those with more limited means and those interested in sharing or increasing the genetic diversity of their collections regardless of the species. Perhaps that is dreaming too big.... but I think that there is strength in numbers and that even the most humble of crosses from a northern specimen to a southern specimen or an eastern specimen to a western specimen may yield genetic diversity that has not been found yet in a form that it has not been seen in yet.  To speak nothing of diploid versus tetraploid genetics and variability sometimes seen in pollen might find a harder time expressing itself if one were to simply rely on cuttings. I have been a member of the NAC for a long time and I have yet to see a single Trichocereus specimen that could come close to the majesty of a small button, but I have hopes that through the efforts of hybridizers and would be seed growers that much more is possible than what we have seen.
     It is only by growing out seeds and selecting those that have the best traits to cross with those others we have that have other desirable traits are we going to select for truly superior cacti in flower forms, shapes, etc. Many cacti are being decimated in the wild due to overharvesting by cacti enthusiasts, NAC members, and the like and those that can act in some form or fashion to preserve or increase that genetic potential before it is lost and have a desire to do so... it is those members that I hope will find these words inspiring and work towards the preservation and the improvement of cacti in general as a great many are used in many religions and are an integral part of many indigenous cultures I see that as they become less plentiful and less potent that there is a serious compromise to their cultures with the demise of these cacti. Perhaps, it is as it should be and that is the way of things. Evolution can be fickle to say the least, but for me, there is always a desire to see what can be done to improve a situation. There is a desire to see what new and exciting beauty can be created and improved on by subsequent breeders as no breeder stands alone.
For those that graft...
Every areole is a cactus waiting to be born

Offline Chief BigTittyFlapFlaps

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wow, that helps in a number of ways.  i really like the idea of working towards greater genetic diversity. 

Offline Inyan

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What are your thoughts on crosses such as L. fricii x Astrophytum asterias? Or L. w. x Turbinicarpus? I must confess, aside from the genetic variability with such crosses... what draws me to these types of crosses is the idea that with time... some very stable and yet wildly different phenotypes could be formed at a much faster rate than one could achieve using simple regional crosses of the same genus and species. When discussing such far reaching hybrids it definitely begs the question will these new hybrids draw the same inquisition as the old pure species Lophophora w.? I am still confused as to why L. w. gains so much notoriety when one can find other cacti that grow much faster with the same actives. I'd like to think that if there was enough genetic diversity, hybrids, and pure specimens with enough genetic diversity as to make them not so readily identifiable to the lay person that with time L. w. would be as wildly different as many Astrophytum hybrids and cultivars thus making it virtually impossible to keep a lid on them so to speak. The purists may have a problem with that however as is always the case, but I see no reason that given enough time and crosses that even pure specimens could not reach some very distinguished and different phenotypes. In my view, there is room for exploration for both the purist and those that would hybridize more loosely. I for one love some of the work that has been done with some of the Trichocereus hybrids. I favor the blue bodied form of Trichocereus, but I would love to see some of these hybrids with more colorful flowers as well. Reds, Magentas, oranges, etc....
For those that graft...
Every areole is a cactus waiting to be born

Offline Chief BigTittyFlapFlaps

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i would like to see astrophytum mixed with whatever it could.  personally, i find astophytums to be the more visually appealing than most other plants.  i agree there is room to explore both avenues.  there will always be people breeding for both purposes anyways. 

Offline Inyan

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I'm definitely with you on the Astrophytums. The Japanese are definitely doing some exceptional work with the Astrophytum genus. I have to say, the few Lophophora x Astrophytum hybrids I've seen definitely make me contemplate the possibilities of more an entire collection of Astrolophs or Lophytums depending on which way the cross is made.
For those that graft...
Every areole is a cactus waiting to be born

Offline Chief BigTittyFlapFlaps

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do you have a link for one of these crosses? 

Offline Inyan

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For those that graft...
Every areole is a cactus waiting to be born

Offline sprac

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Hey,

Haven't posted on this forum in years....

Just wanted to say ; these things look amazing! Very very nice. I am keeping my ear to the ground to get some astrophora hybrid seeds as soon as possible... The things look beautiful !

Good to be on here again; maybe we can get things rolling on here... This site has alot of potential.

Hope everyone is doing good.

Offline Inyan

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Good to see you Sprac.

As for getting things rolling... how about a seedling just 15 days old from sprouting.
For those that graft...
Every areole is a cactus waiting to be born