Interspecific Hybridization in Hazelnut (Corylus)

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331

Eight Corylus L. (hazelnut) species were intercrossed in all possible combinations to reveal genetic relationships. Pollinations were made on either individually bagged branches or trees covered entirely with polyethylene using mixtures of pollen of five genotypes to minimize low cluster set due to single incompatible combinations. Percent cluster set, seed germination, and hybrid seedling survival were determined. Hybridity of seedlings was verified by inspection of morphological traits. Based on percent cluster set, seed germination, and hybrid seedling survival along with observed morphological similarities, Corylus species were placed in three groups: 1) the tree hazels C. colurna L. (turkish tree hazel) and C. chinensis Franchet (chinese tree hazel), 2) the bristle-husked shrub species C. cornuta Marshall (beaked hazel), C. californica (A.DC.) Rose (california hazel), and C. sieboldiana Blume (manchurian hazel), and 3) the leafy-husked shrub species C. avellana L. (european hazel), C. americana Marshall (american hazel), C. heterophylla Fischer (siberian hazel), and C. heterophylla Fischer var. sutchuensis Franchet (sichuan hazel). The two tree hazel species crossed with each other readily, as did the three bristle-husked shrub species. The frequency of blanks was low (<20%) for crosses of the tree hazels, and <50% for interspecific crosses within the group of bristle-husked species. The leafy-husked shrub species could be crossed with each other in all directions, although cluster set on C. heterophylla was low. For crosses of species belonging to different groups, set was generally low and the frequency of blanks high. Nevertheless, a few hybrid seedlings were obtained from several combinations. When used as the female parent, C. californica set nuts when crossed with all other species, indicating possible value as a bridge species. Crosses involving C. avellana were more successful when it was the pollen parent. In crosses with C. avellana pollen, cluster set on C. chinensis was better than on C. colurna and the frequency of blanks was much lower, indicating that it might be easier to transfer nonsuckering growth habit from C. chinensis than from C. colurna. Reciprocal differences in the success of crosses was observed. The following crosses were successful C. californica × C. avellana, C. chinensis × C. avellana, C americana × C. heterophylla, C. cornuta × C heterophylla, C. californica × C. colurna, and C. americana × C. sieboldiana, but the reciprocals were not.

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