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Neil O. Anderson, Peter D. Ascher, and James J. Luby

The change from asexual to sexual propagation for annual and perennial bedding plants has been successfully accomplished for floral crops, e.g., Pelargonium. Seed-propagated cultivars do not necessarily possess the clonal uniformity of vegetatively propagated cultivars. In the development of F1 hybrid garden chrysanthemums, this lack of uniformity was assessed with the use of consumer sensory evaluations. Seedlings (n = 10–20 plants/cross) were transplanted for field trials in St. Paul and five Minnesota branch stations each year during 1988–94 to test for G × E. Early flowering F1 hybrids, developed from inbred parents with general combining ability, were evaluated for flowering earliness, plant uniformity, and a general rating. Consumer rankings of top performers were not significantly different (5% level) from mum breeders. The top performers for all three ratings were selected each year for repeat evaluation the next year. The two highest performing F1 hybrids were submitted for All American Selection Trials in 1995.

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Chad E. Finn, Carl J. Rosen, and James J. Luby

Root sections of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. cv. Searles) were microscopically examined to document the typical anatomy of cranberry roots and changes in root anatomy in response to N-form and solution pH. Cranberry cuttings were rooted, then established in hydroponic conditions with three N and two pH regimes. The three N regimes with equal N levels were 1) NH4-N alone, 2) NH4/NO3-N in combination, or 3) NO3-N alone. pH was maintained at 4.5 or 6.5. Root apical regions were examined using phase contrast, bright field, and epifluorescence microscopy. The cranberry root tip develops with a closed apical organization with the tetrarchal vascular cylinder, cortex, and root cap traceable to independent meristem cell layers. The most obvious treatment difference was an accumulation of unidentified “granules” in the subepidermal layer, readily visible with epifluorescence microscopy with NO3-N alone. Roots produced at pH 4.5 branched less than those at 6.5 and had more “quiescent” root initials; at pH 6.5, these developed more frequently into branch roots.

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Mary Ann Start, James Luby, Robert Guthrie, and Debby Filler

The hardy Actinidia species represent a source of genetic diversity for improving A. deliciosa (kiwifruit) as well as for creating new economically important cultivars through intra- and interspecific crosses. Attempts at breeding in Actinidia have been complicated by the existence of intraspecific as well as interspecific variation in ploidy. The haploid chromosome number in Actinidia is 29 and diploid (2n=2x=58), tetraploid (2n=4x=116), and hexaploid (2n=6x=174) levels have been identified. Because of the problems encountered when crossing parents differing in ploidy level, it is desirable to know the ploidy levels of plants to be used in breeding. We determined the ploidy levels of 61 Actinidia accessions currently available in the U.S., including primarily accessions of relatively winter-hardy species. The 61 accessions, representing eight species and three interspecific hybrids, were screened for ploidy using flow cytometry. Mitotic root tip cells from one plant from each putative ploidy level were examined microscopically to confirm the ploidy level derived from flow cytometry. There were 17 diploids, 40 tetraploids, and 4 hexaploids. Intraspecific variation was not found among accessions of the species arguta, callosa, deliciosa, kolomikta, melanandra, polygama, or purpurea. All kolomikta and polygama accessions were diploid. All arguta, callosa, melanandra, and purpurea accessions were tetraploid. Actinidia deliciosa was hexaploid. One chinensis accession was tetraploid. Two accessions (NGPR 0021.14 and 0021.3), acquired as chinensis, were hexaploid and may, in fact, be A. deliciosa based on their morphology. `Issai' (arguta × polygama) was hexaploid and `Ken's Red' and `Red Princess' (both melanandra × arguta) were tetraploid.

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Debbv M. Filler, James J. Luby, and Peter D. Ascher

Three classes of crosses using four genotypes of V. riparia (wild Riverbank grape) as maternal parents were evaluated for evidence of reproductive expression of genetic incongruity. The classes were: I V. riparia x V. vinifera cultivars (European domesticated grape); II V. riparia x French Hybrids (complex interspecific hybrids); III V. riparia x V. riparia. Percent fruit set and seeds per berry were recorded for two years. If incongruity is a factor in interspecific grape crosses, then the values for these traits would be expected to be lower in classes I and II than in class III. Analysis of variance indicated significant differences for some half-sib families. Fruit and seed set were lower in classes I and II than in class III, suggesting that incongruity is operative in wide grape crosses. In the process of creating French hybrids, genomes of several species came together over generations of hybridization. In concert with selection for fertility, repeated interspecific genomic exposure would be expected to have ameliorated the effects of initial incongruity between American species and V. vinifera, increasing their value as genetic bridges in breeding programs.

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James J. Luby, David K. Wildung, and Gene J. Galletta

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Shengrui Yao, James J. Luby, and David K. Wildung

As part of our hardy strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) breeding program, winter hardiness of 15 strawberry cultivars was evaluated in the field after Winter 2005–2006 and a test Winter 2006–2007 with no snow cover at Grand Rapids, MN. After the snow-covered Winter 2005–2006, plant stand (percent leaf coverage for the designated area for each plot) increased for all cultivars in the mulched treatment and some cultivars in the unmulched treatment with slight decreases only for several cultivars in the unmulched treatment. However, after Winter 2006–2007, the plant stands of all cultivars drastically decreased in both mulched and unmulched treatments. ‘Clancy’, ‘Evangeline’, and ‘L'Amour’ were the three most sensitive cultivars among the 15 cultivars tested. ‘Kent’, ‘Mesabi™’, ‘Cavendish’, and ‘Brunswick’ were the highest yielding cultivars for both 2006 and 2007 in the mulched treatment. In the unmulched treatment, ‘Brunswick’, ‘Mesabi™ ’, ‘Cavendish’, ‘Sable’, and ‘Kent’ were the top yielding cultivars after Winter 2006–2007. During Winter 2005–2006, with 20 to 30 cm snow cover throughout the season, the 5- and 10-cm soil temperatures remained constant at ≈30 to 31.5 °F in both mulched and unmulched treatments. In contrast, during Winter 2006–2007, there were 16 and 24 days (consecutive) in February below 18 °F at 5-cm soil depths for mulched and unmulched treatments, respectively, which probably led to the severe winter damage. Although straw mulch afforded the plants some protection, snow cover is critical to the survival of strawberries in northern Minnesota and other areas with similar weather conditions.

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Ann Marie Connor, James J. Luby, and Cindy B.S. Tong

Variation in antioxidant activity (AA), total phenolic content (TPH), and total anthocyanin content (ACY) was examined in 1998 and 1999 in fruit of 52 (49 blue-fruited and 3 pink-fruited) genotypes from a blueberry breeding population. The species ancestry included Vaccinium corymbosum L. (northern highbush blueberry), V. angustifolium Ait. (lowbush blueberry), V. constablaei Gray (mountain highbush blueberry), V. ashei Reade (rabbiteye blueberry), and V. myrtilloides Michx. (lowbush blueberry). Using a methyl linoleate oxidation assay (MeLO) on acidified methanolic extracts of the berries, a 5-fold variation was found in AA in 1998 and a 3-fold variation in 1999 among the blue-fruited genotypes. Analyses of variance (ANOVA) revealed variation among genotypes (P < 0.0001) in single and combined years, regardless of inclusion of pink-fruited selections and adjustment for berry size. While mean AA of all genotypes did not change between the 2 years, ranking of some genotypes for AA changed significantly between 1998 and 1999. Of the 10 genotypes that demonstrated the highest AA in 1998, four were among the 10 genotypes that demonstrated highest AA in 1999. Similarly, of the 15 genotypes with the highest AA, 10 were the same both years. As with AA, mean TPH of all genotypes did not change between years and ANOVA demonstrated genotypic variation regardless of adjustment for berry size/weight or exclusion of pink-fruited selections. Changes in genotype rank occurred between years. The difference in TPH between lowest- and highest-ranking blue-fruited genotypes was ≈2.6-fold in both 1998 and 1999. Seven of the 10 highest-ranking genotypes were the same both years and TPH correlated with AA (r = 0.92, P < 0.01) on a genotype mean basis for combined years. ACY correlated less well with AA (r = 0.73, P < 0.01 for combined years). When genotypes were categorized into six groups according to species ancestry, V. myrtilloides and V. constablaei × V. ashei crosses ranked highest and second highest, respectively, for AA in both years. The groups comprised of V. corymbosum genotypes, V. angustifolium genotypes, and those with both V. corymbosum and V. angustifolium in their lineage were indistinguishable from each other. Samples from some of the genotypes were analyzed for oxygen radical absorbance capacity and ferric-reducing antioxidant power, and these aqueous-based antioxidant assays correlated well with the lipid emulsion-based MeLO (all r ≥ 0.90, P < 0.01). The three antioxidant assays may be equally useful for screening in a blueberry breeding program and the choice of assay may depend on the goal of the program and the resources available.

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Richard E. Harrison, James J. Luby, and Glenn R. Furnier

Restriction fragment-length polymorphisms (RFLPs) of chloroplast DNA (cpDNA) were used to study phylogenetic relationships among twenty-six Fragaria taxa and two closely related species, Potentilla fruticosa L. and Duchesnea indica (Andrews) Focke. Sixteen restriction enzymes and probes of the entire Nicotiana tabacum L. chloroplast genome revealed a very low level of variation among the Fragaria taxa, limiting phylogenetic resolution. However, Fragaria appears to be more closely related to Potentilla than Duchesnea. The diploid taxa, F. iinumae Makino, F. nilgerrensis Schlect. and F. vesca L. were the most divergent Fragaria taxa and F. iinumae appears to be the most ancestral taxon. Little variation was revealed within the economically important octoploid group of taxa, which gave rise to the cultivated strawberry, and no progenitor taxa to the octoploid group could be identified. The lack of variation in the chloroplast genome suggests that these Fragaria species may be of relatively recent evolutionary origin.

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David A. Munter, James J. Luby, and Neil O. Anderson

Zanthoxylum americanum is a common understory species in the northern forests of Minnesota and surrounding regions. It has potential economic importance for its citrus fragrance, pharmacological or insecticidal properties, and produces peppercorns similar to those of the related Zanthoxylum species. Zanthoxylum americanum is a dioecious species but has been reported to have aberrant flowers with autonomous apomixis instead of other potential reproductive barriers. The reproductive biology of Zanthoxylum americanum was investigated in two native Minnesota populations. Determinations of male fertility, whether autonomous apomixis was the predominant floral reproductive mechanism, the presence of seedless fruit (parthenocarpy/stenospermocarpy), and the occurrence of hermaphrodism were made over 2 years. Sex ratios (female:male plants) within each population differed. The mean pollen stainability was 95.8% ± 0.3% (fresh) and 78.6% ± 1.1% (stored 18 months). Parthenocarpy did not occur in either population. Autonomous apomixis was not the primary floral reproductive mechanism. Stenospermocarpy (seedlessness) occurred in 13% of the female fruit clusters. Although commonly described as being dioecious, two additional reproductive strategies were identified: 1) plants with functional protandrous flowers with rudimentary pistils and 2) hermaphroditic flowers with fully functional pistils (protogynous) and anthers. As many as 10% to 30% of the male plants bore at least one fruit/plant each year. One clonal stand had both hermaphroditic and functionally staminate flowers on the same plant. Two evolutionary pathways to dioecy in Z. americanum are proposed.

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Richard E. Harrison, James J. Luby, and Peter D. Ascher

Pollination of the half-high blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L./V. anugustifolium Ait.) cultivars St. Cloud, Northsky, Northcountry, and Northblue with self, outcross, and outcross/self pollen mixtures suggests that outcross fertilization maximizes percent fruit set, berry weight, seeds per berry, and seeds per pollination while minimizing days to harvest. Based on these results, mixed plantings of at least two blueberry cultivars are recommended for these cultivars. Fruit and seed set were negatively associated with increased percentages of self pollen in outcross/self pollen mixtures. These responses were linear for `Northblue' due to a tendency to parthenocarpy, and nonlinear for `St. Cloud', `Northsky', and `Northcountry', due to low fruit set following self-pollination. These data indicate that post-fertilization abortion affected seed formation, which was, in turn, correlated positively with fruit set.