No presently available rootstock combines all the available rootstock attributes necessary for efficient long-term citriculture (production and harvesting) of Mexican limes and other commercially important scions. In the present study, somatic hybridization techniques were used to combine the widely adapted Amblycarpa mandarin (also known as Nasnaran mandarin) with six different trifoliate/trifoliate hybrid selections: Benton, Carrizo, and C-35 citranges; Flying Dragon and Rubidoux trifoliate oranges; and a somatic hybrid of sour orange + Flying Dragon. The ultimate goal of this research is to generate polyploid somatic hybrids that express the complementary horticultural and disease resistance attributes of the corresponding parents, and have direct potential as improved tree-size controlling rootstocks. Somatic hybrids from all six parental combinations were confirmed by a combination of leaf morphology, flow cytometry, and randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) (for nuclear hybridity) and cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence (CAPS) analyses (for mtDNA and cpDNA). This is the first report of citrus somatic hybridization using Amblycarpa mandarin. Unexpected hexaploid somatic hybrid plants were recovered from the fusion of Amblycarpa mandarin + C-35 citrange. Hexaploid hybrids should be very dwarfing and may have potential for producing potted ornamental citrus. Resulting somatic hybrid plants from all six combinations have been propagated by tissue culture and/or rooted cuttings and are being prepared for commercial field evaluation for their potential as improved rootstocks for Mexican lime and other important scions.
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