Submitted to: Southern Nursery Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/8/2006
Publication Date: 4/5/2007
Citation: Rinehart, T.A., Trigiano, R.N., Mclaurin, W., Knight, P. 2007. The Utility of DNA Fingerprinting for Plant Patent Protection: An example for Lagerstroemia. Southern Nursery Association Proceedings Vol 51, pp 607-609. Interpretive Summary: Crapemyrtles are a popular woody landscape plant with more than 200 named varieties, 120 of them in the wholesale nursery industry. As of 2004, at least 32 crapemyrtles were protected by plant patents (1). Plant patent applications require botanical descriptions that identify the trait or combination of traits which make the plant unique. Plant patents are only awarded to asexually reproduced plants making them specific to a single genotype that theoretically remains unchanged during the 20 years of patent protection. Advances in biotechnology have made DNA fingerprinting affordable. Molecular markers are routinely used to characterize and defend intellectual property rights of agronomically important plants but this technology is not usually applied to ornamental plants despite the growing number of plant patents being issued. The objective of this work was to establish the unique genotype of a new and improved Mississippi State University (MSU) crapemyrtle that has dark colored foliage. DNA fingerprints were compared to four crapemyrtle cultivars, ‘White Chocolate’, ‘Rhapsody in Pink’, ‘Burgundy Cotton’, and ‘Pink Velour’, which are available in the trade and have dark foliage. We also used the DNA fingerprints to verify the parentage of the new MSU release which was described in field notes as an F1 hybrid between ‘Tonto’ and ‘Red Rocket’.
Technical Abstract: The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a plant as a “living plant organism which expresses a set of characteristics determined by its single genetic makeup, or genotype…” Here we demonstrate the utility of molecular markers to characterize the genome of a crapemyrtle plant that was recently named in a plant patent application. Results include a unique DNA fingerprint for this plant when compared to crapemyrtles with similar phenotype and verification of the parents that produced it.