Deciduous azaleas are an important element of residential and commercial landscapes in the United States after substantial trait improvements to increase their market appeal. Despite progress in breeding for ornamental characteristics and cold hardiness, intolerance to elevated pH and calcareous soils continues to limit their use in managed landscapes. Therefore, we assessed the utility of in vitro and greenhouse phenotyping approaches to evaluate and select for improved soil pH tolerance to increase the efficiency of breeding for this important trait. The research presented offers an example for implementing image-based phenotyping to expedite cultivar development in woody ornamental crops.
We thank Alan Smith for permission to use tissue culture lab space and equipment. We also thank Elsa Eschenaur and Mitchal Peterson for their assistance in subculturing and help with other tissue culture lab techniques presented in this research. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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