Prunus tomentosa Thunb. (2n = 16) and P. salicina Lindl. (2n = 16) of the family Rosaceae belong to different subgenera. Prunus tomentosa is in the subgenus Cerasus, while P. salicina is in the subgenus Prunophora (Ingram, 1948; Rehder, 1940). Both species are native to China and have been cultivated for over 2000 years (Yü and Li, 1986). Prunus tomentosa is a cold tolerant species and can endure winter temperatures as low as −40 °C. It is self-pollinated with fruits resistant to rain cracking and ripening synchronously (Zhang et al., 2008). Small fruit size (0.4–2.85 g) has been one of the major factors limiting its development. Prunus salicina is one of the important commercial stone fruits both in China and internationally and is valued for its large fruit size (5–90 g) and good quality. However, most cultivars require pollination trees to get good harvest (Zhang, 1990).
Hybridization between species in Prunus is possible and a number of useful interspecific hybrids have been reported (Burbank, 1914; Felipe, 2009; Shoferistov, 1988). Some hybrids have been widely used in fruit production either as scion cultivars or rootstocks. A hybrid rootstock for peach was derived from a cross of P. tomentosa and P. cerasifera (Warner, 1998). However, hybridization between P. tomentosa and P. salicina has not been reported previously. Hybridization of these two species could potentially combine the cold hardiness and self-compatibility of P. tomentosa with large fruit size of P. salicina and broaden the genetic base for further breeding within this genus.
The objective of this research was to characterize the morphology of the hybrid and both parents and to validate the hybridity using molecular markers. This article reports the first breeding and validation of an interspecific hybrid between P. tomentosa and P. salicina.
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