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Deborah Dean, Phillip A. Wadl, Denita Hadziabdic, William E. Klingeman, Bonnie H. Ownley, Timothy A. Rinehart, Adam J. Dattilo, Brian Scheffler, and Robert N. Trigiano

Viburnum rufidulum is a deciduous tree native to North America that has four-season appeal, which provides commercial horticultural value. In addition, the plant has unique and attractive red pubescence on leaf buds and petioles, common to no other Viburnum species. As habitat undergoes development and subsequent fragmentation of native plant populations, it is important to have baseline genetic information for this species. Little is known about the genetic diversity within populations of V. rufidulum. In this study, seven microsatellite loci were used to measure genetic diversity, population structure, and gene flow of 235 V. rufidulum trees collected from 17 locations in Kentucky and Tennessee. The genotype data were used to infer population genetic structure using the program InStruct and to construct an unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean dendrogram. A single population was indicated by the program InStruct and the dendrogram clustered the locations into two groups; however, little bootstrap support was evident. Observed and expected heterozygosity were 0.49 and 0.78, respectively. Low-to-moderate genetic differentiation (F ST = 0.06) with evidence of gene flow (Nm = 4.82) was observed among 17 populations of V. rufidulum. A significant level of genetic diversity was evident among V. rufidulum populations with most of the genetic variations among individual trees (86.37%) rather than among populations (13.63%), and a Mantel test revealed significant correlation between genetic and geographical distance (r = 0.091, P = 0.001). The microsatellites developed herein provide an initial assessment or a baseline of genetic diversity for V. rufidulum in a limited area of the southeastern region of the United States. The markers are a genetic resource and can be of assistance in breeding programs, germplasm assessment, and future studies of V. rufidulum populations, as this is the first study to provide genetic diversity data for this native species.

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Marcin Nowicki, Edward E. Schilling, Sarah L. Boggess, Logan C. Houston, Matthew L. Huff, Margaret E. Staton, Jayne A. Lampley, and Robert N. Trigiano

The genus Chrysogonum is native to the eastern United States. Three entities have been recognized—either as three varieties of Chrysogonum virginianum or as two species, one of them with two varieties. The current study suggests that a fourth entity should be recognized. Several forms of the complex are in commercial trade as ornamentals. As very limited molecular information on Chrysogonum is available, we developed a set of genic simple sequence repeat markers (eSSRs) from de novo transcriptome sequencing. We tested a set of 17 eSSRs on a collection of C. virginianum genomic DNA samples from the three botanical varieties, and a new putative type observed in Tennessee, dubbed “Ocoee-type” for its geographic origin. The polymerase chain reaction and capillary electrophoresis analyses with downstream population genetics tools verified the usefulness of the eSSRs. By applying this approach, we showed recognizable variation within Chrysogonum, although it did not correspond exactly to previous infraspecific classifications. Finally, as demonstrated for the commercial cultivar Pierre included in the study, the eSSRs can be used for enhancing the future breeding or hybridization efforts of this ornamental plant.

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Phillip A. Wadl, John A. Skinner, John R. Dunlap, Sandra M. Reed, Timothy A. Rinehart, Vincent R. Pantalone, and Robert N. Trigiano

Flowering (Cornus florida L.) and kousa (C. kousa Hance) dogwoods are ornamental trees valued for their four-season appeal, but also for their importance to retail and wholesale nurseries. The popularity of kousa dogwood has increased in recent years as a result of its resistance to dogwood anthracnose and powdery mildew as compared with flowering dogwood, which is typically susceptible to those diseases. This range of resistance allows the development of intra- and interspecific cultivars with multiple disease resistance or a combination of disease resistance and specific ornamental traits. Breeding requires controlled crosses that are usually done manually, which is a labor-intensive process. Cornus florida and C. kousa have generally been found to be self-incompatible allowing for the breeding process to be made more efficient by not having to emasculate flowers. We have capitalized on the natural ability of honeybees and the self-incompatible nature of dogwood to perform self- and crosspollinations of flowering and kousa dogwood. Self-pollinations were conducted in 2006 and 2007 with C. florida ‘Appalachian Spring’ and ‘Cherokee Brave’ and with C. kousa ‘Blue Shadow’ and Galilean®. The flowering dogwood self-pollinations resulted in no seed production, whereas the kousa dogwood self-pollinations resulted in low seed production, indicating self-incompatibility. Intra- and interspecific crosses of flowering and kousa dogwood cultivars and breeding lines were conducted in 2006 to 2008. Honeybees were effective in facilitating seed production for all intraspecific crosses conducted. Seedling phenotypes of putative intra- and interspecific hybrids are similar and practically indistinguishable, so dogwood-specific simple sequence repeats were used to verify a sample of the putative hybrids. The results demonstrated that honeybees were effective in performing controlled pollinations and that honeybee-mediated pollinations provide an alternative to time-consuming hand pollinations for flowering and kousa dogwood.

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Xinwang Wang, Phillip A. Wadl, Cecil Pounders, Robert N. Trigiano, Raul I. Cabrera, Brian E. Scheffler, Margaret Pooler, and Timothy A. Rinehart

Genetic diversity was estimated for 51 Lagerstroemia indica L. cultivars, five Lagerstroemia fauriei Koehne cultivars, and 37 interspecific hybrids using 78 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers. SSR loci were highly variable among the cultivars, detecting an average of 6.6 alleles (amplicons) per locus. Each locus detected 13.6 genotypes on average. Cluster analysis identified three main groups that consisted of individual cultivars from L. indica, L. fauriei, and their interspecific hybrids. However, only 18.1% of the overall variation was the result of differences between these groups, which may be attributable to pedigree-based breeding strategies that use current cultivars as parents for future selections. Clustering within each group generally reflected breeding pedigrees but was not supported by bootstrap replicates. Low statistical support was likely the result of low genetic diversity estimates, which indicated that only 25.5% of the total allele size variation was attributable to differences between the species L. indica and L. fauriei. Most allele size variation, or 74.5%, was common to L. indica and L. fauriei. Thus, introgression of other Lagestroemia species such as Lagestroemia limii Merr. (L. chekiangensis Cheng), Lagestroemia speciosa (L.) Pers., and Lagestroemia subcostata Koehne may significantly expand crapemyrtle breeding programs. This study verified relationships between existing cultivars and identified potentially untapped sources of germplasm.