A study of quantitative genetics on some characters of the meadowfoam plant (Limnanthes alba Benth.) : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Applied Science degree in Plant Science at Massey University
The meadowfoam plant is a moisture-loving native of the west coast of the North American continent near the borders of USA and Canada. It has recently stirred great interest in the chemical oil industry due to the potential of its seed oil to substitute for sperm whale oil. Due to the relative lack of published literature on this plant, an experiment was planned to study the quantitative genetics of some of its characters. Thirty-six half-sib families were planted and the following characters were examined: plant height; diameter; uprightness; intensity of redness on branches and its distribution; leaf shape; period to first flower; seed set; mature seed retained; degree of seed shattering; and thousand-seed mass. Factor analysis was also performed on the flowering pattern of the plants. Results indicated that all characters were heritable in the broad-sense, and all but two characters (diameter and degree of seed shatter) had significantly heritable narrow-sense heritabilities. The amount of genetic variability present in this species is also very high. Plant improvement methods based on selection are therefore recommended. Predictions on genetic advance show that the characters plant height, seed retention, leaf shape, and red intensity and distribution on branches showed greatest promise for rapid improvement.