Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » Vegetable Crops Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #142516


item Simon, Philipp
item Jenderek, Maria

Submitted to: Plant Breeding
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/23/2003
Publication Date: 3/25/2003
Citation: Simon, P.W., Jenderek, M.M. 2003. Flowering, seed production and the genesis of garlic breeding. Plant Breeding. 32:211-244.

Interpretive Summary: While garlic has been cultivated for over 5,000 years, seed production was not reported until after 1950. In the 1980s and 1990s projects to expand garlic seed production were established in the US and Japan and millions of garlic seed have been generated. With the availability of seed, the garlic crop can be improved in plant breeding programs like other crops in agriculture.

Technical Abstract: Garlic is a widely recognized and appreciated crop with a long history of asexual propagation. Several inherent aspects of garlic growth and development combined with artifacts of its long asexual reproduction have resulted in a crop where many clones do not flower, those flowering are nearly or completely sterile, bulbils usually suppress flower maturation, and first generation seedlings are weak with a high incidence of abnormalities limiting normal growth and development. In spite of these facts, observations and experiments of the last 50 years, and especially the efforts of T. Etoh in the last 20 years, made it apparent that the production of true garlic seed is possible. Access to a diverse range of germplasm, particularly that from near its center of origin, combined with careful application of procedures to enhance seed production and growth, such as bulbil removal and careful seedling husbandry has set the stage for true garlic seed production of the crop. Thus the advantages that sexual reproduction brings in generating a balanced genome and combining traits from two unrelated parents could be captured. Utilizing these materials, methods, and meiosis, a small level of success in garlic seed production was realized. Taking advantage of the benefits these breakthrough efforts, millions of garlic seeds have been generated in the last decade, and garlic breeding is underway. The potential for combing traits of diverse materials to develop new genotypes is only in its infancy, but much genetic variation is apparent and field testing of a seed produced garlic crop is underway.