Update on the Ornamental Breeding Program at the University of New Hampshire

in HortScience

The Ornamental Breeding Program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) was initiated in 1998, aiming to develop new or improved vegetatively propagated cultivars. Initially, breeding focused on Anagallis monelli (Pimpernel). At the time, only one blue and one orange cultivar (`Skylover Blue' and `Sunrise') were grown commercially. Main breeding goals were to develop plants with more compact habit and earlier flowering in the spring. In 2002, the first two UNH cultivars were released as Proven Selections™: Anagallis`Wildcat Blue' and `Wildcat Orange'. We have also developed breeding lines with new pink, violet, lilac, and white flower colors that are currently in industry trials. Studies on genetics, biochemistry, and anatomy of flower color in A. monelli have been performed and molecular studies are in progress. Breeding of Nolana and Browallia started in 2000 and UNH lines are currently in industry trials. Nolana is comprised of over 80 species native to desert areas of Peru and Chile. Only two cultivars, N. paradoxa`Bluebird' and `Snowbird', and interspecific hybrid `Blue Eyes' are currently commercially available. We now have several Nolana species at UNH representing a wide germplasm base. Based on ornamental potential, some species have been selected for breeding, aiming to develop sterile interspecific hybrids. Studies to break seed dormancy to optimize germination rates are in progress, as well as research on floral development, which is being conducted in collaboration with Peruvian researchers. Interspecific hybridizations have been used in Browallia to develop breeding lines with new or improved traits than those available from seed cultivars.

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