Interspecific hybridization, pollen-stigma incompatibility, and DNA sequence analysis were used to study the relationships among hazelnut (Corylus) species. Interspecific crosses resulted in a wide range of cluster set from 0% to 65%. Reciprocal differences were common. In general, crosses involving C. avellana and C. heterophylla were more successful when used as pollen parents, but crosses involving C. americana were more successful when it was the female parent. C. cornuta, C. californica and C. sieboldiana intercrossed freely in both directions, as did C.colurna and C.chinensis. The Asian species, C. sieboldiana, C.heteropyhlla, and C. chinensis, were not cross-compatible with each other. Fluorescence microscopy showed that pollen-stigma incompatibility exists within and among wild hazelnut species, in addition to the cultivated European hazelnut C. avellana. Pollen-stigma incompatibility and embryo abortion (blank nuts) appear to be major blocks to interspecific gene flow. In addition, the chloroplast matK gene and the Internal Transcribed Spacer (ITS) region of the nuclear ribosomal DNA (nrDNA) were amplified and sequenced. The matK sequence was highly conserved and thus was not informative. However, the ITS sequence was highly informative and parsimony analysis agreed with morphological similarities. Corylus species were placed into four groups: 1) C. avellana, C. maxima, C. americana and C. heterophylla 2) C. colurna, C.chinensis, and C. jacquemontii 3) C. cornuta, C. californica and C. sieboldiana 4)C. ferox.
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