The ornamental value of caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey) depends primarily on leaf characteristics, including leaf shape and main vein color. Caladium leaf shapes are closely associated with plant growth habit, stress tolerance, and tuber yield; leaf main vein colors are often used for cultivar identification. Thirty-eight crosses were made among 10 cultivars and two breeding lines; their progeny were analyzed to understand the inheritance of leaf shape and main vein color and to determine if there is a genetic linkage between these two traits. Results showed that a single locus with three alleles determined the main vein color in caladium. The locus was designated as V, with alleles Vr, Vw, and Vg for red, white, and green main veins, respectively. The white vein allele was dominant over the green vein allele, but it was recessive to the red vein allele, which was dominant over both white and green vein alleles; thus the dominance order of the alleles is Vr > Vw > Vg. Segregation data indicated that four major red-veined cultivars were heterozygous with the genotype Vr Vg, and that one white-veined cultivar was homozygous and one other white-veined cultivar and one breeding line were heterozygous. The observed segregation data confirmed that the three leaf shapes in caladium were controlled by two co-dominant alleles at one locus, designated as F and f, for fancy and strap leaves, respectively. The skewedness of leaf shape segregation in some of the crosses implied the existence of other factors that might contribute to the formation of leaf shape. Contingency chi-square tests for independence revealed that caladium leaf shape and main vein color were inherited independently. The chi-square tests for goodness-of-fit indicated that the five observed segregation patterns for leaf shape and main vein color fit well to the expected ratio assuming that two co-dominant and three dominant/recessive alleles control leaf shape and main vein color and they are inherited independently.
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