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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Poplarville, Mississippi » Southern Horticultural Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #318524

Research Project: Small Fruit and Ornamental Genetic Research for the Mid-South

Location: Southern Horticultural Research

Title: A Road Map Towards High pH Adaptability: Phenomic and Genomic Approaches to Azalea Breeding (Rhododendron sp.)

item SUSKO, ALEXANDER - University Of Minnesota
item HOKANSON, STAN - University Of Minnesota
item BRADEEN, JIM - University Of Minnesota
item Rinehart, Timothy - Tim

Submitted to: The Azalean
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: not applicable

Technical Abstract: A research grant from the Azalea Society of America has enabled us to collect and begin evaluating diverse Rhododendron viscosum germplasm to identify genetic and phenotypic variation for pH adaptability. During the Spring of 2014, we developed novel, in vitro screening methods for Rhododendron to test seedlings at a young age for their ability to withstand higher calcium carbonate concentrations at elevated pH. Alex Susko then searched for Rhododendron viscosum populations through historical herbarium records and a two-month collection expedition from Arkansas to Florida in national forests between May and July, 2014. Populations were chosen to be a part of the study based on their isolation from human activity and occurrence in representative environments for each region along the US gulf coast. Cuttings were successfully rooted from each population and are now housed at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum’s Horticultural Research Center. Seed was retreived from the wild populations in late October 2014 and is currently undergoing germination testing. Seed from wild, half sib families will be grown and phenotyped in the spring for pH tolerance incorporating genetic relatedness into a model to determine the relative performance of each wild population for our candidate traits. We also hope to determine the genetic effect on pH adaptability in deciduous azalea to inform future breeding efforts in these and other woody species, while evaluating for other horticultural qualities important to Minnesota growers.