Modern-day anthurium cultivars are complex interspecific hybrids between Anthurium andraeanum Linden ex André and other species belonging to the section, Calomystrium, and are collectively referred to as A. andraeanum (Hort.) (Kamemoto and Kuehnle, 1996). Anthurium is well known for its attractive and long-lasting spathes of various colors, shapes, textures, and sizes, which have contributed to its emergence as an important tropical ornamental crop.
The five major spathe colors of anthurium are red, pink, orange, coral, and white (Kamemoto et al., 1988; Wannakrairoj and Kamemoto, 1990). However, other colors are known such as green, as a result of the presence of chlorophyll; brown, resulting from the copigmentation of orange and green; and spatial bicolors involving green lobes with any of the five major spathe colors in the center (Kamemoto and Kuehnle, 1996). In the global anthurium market, red cultivars are by far the most important (Van Herk et al., 1998), although there has been increasing demand for other colors, bicolors, and patterns (Kamemoto and Kuehnle, 1996) with novelties fetching premium prices (Collette, 2002).
Iwata et al. (1979) reported that the five major spathe colors were determined by two anthocyanins, pelargonidin 3-rutinoside (pelargonidin 3-rhamonsylglucoside) and cyanidin 3-rutinoside (cyanidin 3-rhamonsylglucoside), found exclusively in the hypodermal layers of abaxial and adaxial surfaces of the spathe (Ehrenberger and Kuehnle, 2003; Higaki et al., 1984). Pelargonidin 3-rutinoside was responsible for orange and coral spathes, whereas both pelargonidin 3-rutinoside and cyanidin 3-rutinoside were found in red and pink spathes (Iwata et al., 1979). Coral and pink spathes had anthocyanins in lower concentrations compared with their orange and red counterparts (Iwata et al., 1985). The whites lacked both anthocyanins but contained colorless flavone C-glycosides (Williams et al., 1981).
The genetic basis of the major spathe colors in anthurium was investigated by Kamemoto and Nakasone (1955, 1963) and Kamemoto et al. (1968). Kamemoto et al. (1988) produced evidence for two genes, M and O, controlling the major spathe colors in A. andraeanum Linden ex André. Recessive epistasis of the O locus over the M reflected the biochemical pathway for anthocyanin biosynthesis (Kamemoto et al., 1988). Based on the genetic model of Kamemoto et al. (1988), MmOo, MmOO, MMOo, and MMOO produced red-spathed (red and pink) phenotypes; mmOo and mmOO produced orange-spathed (orange and coral) phenotypes; and mmoo, Mmoo, and MMoo produced white-spathed phenotypes. Furthermore, the dosages of M and O genes reflected the range of colors obtained; pink cultivars were postulated to be heterozygous for M and O loci, and coral cultivars were heterozygous for the O locus (Kamemoto et al., 1988). It was further postulated that the incremental effect of M was greater than O and mmoo = Mmoo = MMoo < mmOo < mmOO < MmOo < MmOO < MMOo < MMOO (Kamemoto et al., 1988).
The genetic model developed by Kamemoto et al. (1988) has not been validated in interspecific hybrids belonging to A. andraeanum (Hort). Furthermore, there is emerging evidence that white-spathed cultivars may be regulatory mutants (Collette, 2002; Collette et al., 2004). The objective of the study is to determine the inheritance of spathe colors based on a large number of broad-based crosses.
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