REPRODUCTIVE BEHAVIOR OF DIPLOID AND ALLOTETRAPLOID AZALEODENDRONS

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, North Carolina State University, Fletcher, NC 28732-9244

Wide hybridization can potentially lead to the combination of diverse traits, but these hybrids are often sterile as is the case with the inter-subgeneric hybrid Rhododendron `Fragrant Affinity'. Induction of polyploidy can restore chromosome homology and fertility in wide hybrids. In this study we successfully developed an allopolyploid form of R. `Fragrant Affinity' using oryzalin as a mitotic inhibitor and chromosome doubling agent. Approximate genome size (2C), determined using flow cytometry, was 1.6 pg for the diploid and 3.2 pg for the allotetraploid. Pollen viability, determined by staining and germination tests, was 4% and 0%, respectively for the diploid and 68% and 45%, respectively for the allotetraploid. No seeds were produced when the diploid R. `Fragrant Affinity' was crossed with pollen from viable diploid and tetraploid parents. The allotetraploid produced viable seeds and seedlings when crossed with viable pollen from either diploid or tetraploid parents, including self pollination, demonstrating restored fertility. Additional crosses were successfully completed using the allotetraploid as part of an ongoing breeding program to develop new fragrant, cold hardy, evergreen rhododendron.

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