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Weining Wang, Yanhong He, Zhe Cao, and Zhanao Deng

Garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), a very important floricultural crop in the United States, has been devastated by impatiens downy mildew (IDM) in recent years. This study was conducted to determine if induced tetraploidy could improve impatiens resistance to downy mildew. Tetraploids were induced by colchicine and confirmed by chromosome counting. Compared with diploids, induced tetraploids showed significant morphological changes, including larger and thicker leaves with larger and fewer stomata; thicker and fewer stems; larger and fewer flowers; and larger pollen grains with higher stainability. In detached leaf and in vivo inoculation assays, tetraploids exhibited improved downy mildew resistance, with lower disease severity, disease incidences, and sporangia densities. Plasmopara obducens, the causal agent of IDM, underwent a similar development process in the leaf tissue of diploids and tetraploids. These results suggest that induced tetraploidy can result in significant changes in impatiens leaf and plant morphology and can increase impatiens resistance to downy mildew to a certain extent.

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Zhanao Deng, Fahrettin Goktepe, Brent K. Harbaugh, and Jinguo Hu

Caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey) is an important aroid widely used in the ornamental plant industry. Concerns have been raised about possible loss of genetic diversity due to a drastic decline in the number of cultivars in the last century. This study assessed genetic diversity and relationships among caladium cultivars and species accessions. Forty-five major cultivars and 14 species accessions were analyzed based on 297 DNA fragments produced by the target-region amplification polymorphism marker system. A low level of diversity (44.4% polymorphism) was exhibited in cultivars, while a high level of diversity (96.8% polymorphism) was present among seven accessions of Caladium bicolor (Aiton) Vent., Caladium marmoratum Mathieu, Caladium picturatum C. Koch, and Caladium schomburgkii Schott. A small percentage (7.6%) of DNA fragments was present in cultivars but absent in the seven species accessions, while a high percentage (32.2%) of DNA fragments was present in the seven species accessions but absent in cultivars. Cultivars shared a higher level of similarity at the molecular level with an average Jaccard coefficient at 0.802, formed a large group in cluster analysis, and concentrated in the scatter plot from a principal-coordinate analysis. Two accessions of C. bicolor and C. schomburgkii were very similar to cultivars with Jaccard similarity coefficients from 0.531 to 0.771, while the rest of the species accessions had small similarity coefficients with cultivars (0.060 to 0.386). Caladium steudnirifolium Engler and Caladium lindenii (André) Madison were very dissimilar to C. bicolor, C. marmoratum, C. picturatum, and C. schomburgkii, with Jaccard similarity coefficients from 0.149 to 0.237 (C. steudnirifolium) and from 0.060 to 0.118 (C. lindenii). There is a limited amount of molecular diversity in caladium cultivars, but the great repertoire of unique genes in species accessions could be used to enhance the diversity in future cultivars and reduce potential genetic vulnerability.

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Zhe Cao, Shunzhao Sui, Qian Yang, and Zhanao Deng

A number of caladium cultivars (Caladium ×hortulanum), including Miss Muffet and Gingerland, produce rugose leaves. The rugosity on these leaves is an intriguing characteristic, often resulting in an increased ornamental value. This study was conducted to understand the mode of inheritance of this trait and to determine its genetic relationship with other foliar characteristics including leaf shape, main vein color, and leaf spotting in caladiums. Sixteen caladium cultivars/breeding lines were crossed and 20 populations were produced; progeny of these populations were phenotyped for rugose leaf as well as leaf shape, main vein color, and leaf spotting. Results showed that a single locus with two alleles controlled the presence or absence of rugose leaves in these populations. The locus was designated as RLF, with the dominant RLF allele for rugose leaves and the recessive allele rlf for nonrugose (flat) leaves. Rugose cultivars Miss Muffet and Gingerland and breeding line UF-317 possessed the heterozygous genotype RLFrlf. Rugose leaf was inherited independently from leaf shape, but linked with the green main vein allele (V g) at the V locus and the leaf spotting allele (S) at the S locus. Three-point analysis of the segregation of the three linked traits in reciprocal crosses between ‘Miss Muffet’ and nonrugose ‘Candidum’ indicated a genetic linkage map with the gene order of S locus locating between the V and the RLF loci. The information obtained from this study will be useful for developing breeding strategies for producing new caladium cultivars with or without rugose leaves, and can facilitate the understanding of the mode of inheritance for rugose leaves in other aroids and other plants.

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Zhan'ao Deng, Fred G. Gmitter Jr., Shunyuan Xiao, and Shu Huang

Citrus tristiza virus (CTV) is the most-significant viral pathogen of citrus in the world. Rapid decline of trees on sour orange and stem pitting of grapefruit and sweet orange, two diseases induced by CTV, severely jeopardize citrus production worldwide. It is recognized that all future rootstocks should be resistant to this virus, and scion resistance to stem pitting stains is desirable. To facilitate introgression of the CTV resistance gene from Poncirus trifoliata and development of CTV-resistant varieties in citrus, gene mapping projects have been initiated and more than a dozen RAPD markers have been identified with tight linkage to the resistance gene. As part of our efforts to use marker-assisted selection with a large number of crosses, and ultimately to accomplish map-based cloning of the CTV resistance gene, we have been converting the most tightly linked RAPD markers into SCAR (sequence characterized amplified region) markers by cloning, sequencing the marker fragments, and designing locus-specific primers. One codominant and several dominant SCARs have been developed thus far. The updated progress and utilization of these SCARs in marker-assisted selection and possibly in characterization of a BAC library will be presented and discussed.

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Sandra B. Wilson, Gary W. Knox, Keona L. Muller, Rosanna Freyre, and Zhanao Deng

Nettleleaf porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis) is a potentially invasive ornamental plant in Florida. Plant growth, visual quality, flowering, and seed viability were assessed for nettleleaf porterweed and eight closely related alternatives planted in northern and southern Florida. In northern Florida, ‘Mario Pollsa’ porterweed (Stachytarpheta spp.), ‘Violacea’ porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis), ‘Naples Lilac’ porterweed (Stachytarpheta spp.), ‘Red Compact’ porterweed (Stachytarpheta speciosa), and nettleleaf porterweed (Stachytarpheta cayennensis) achieved high flower ratings between 4 (average to good flowering) and 5 (abundant flowering, peak bloom) during 4 or more months. Also, jamaican porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), ‘Violacea’ porterweed, ‘Red Compact’ porterweed, and nettleleaf porterweed achieved visual quality ratings between 4 and 5 (good to excellent quality) throughout most of the study. In southern Florida, the same cultivars received high flower ratings but generally for shorter periods of time. Also, ‘Violacea’ porterweed and ‘Red Compact’ porterweed consistently received visual quality ratings that were above 4 (good quality, very desirable). During the course of the 28-week study, nettleleaf porterweed produced the greatest number of spiked inflorescences with 39% to 80% seed viability. At both locations, ‘Violacea’ porterweed did not produce any viable seed and seed viability was less than 10% for ‘Mario Pollsa’ porterweed, coral porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis), and ‘Naples Lilac’ porterweed.

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Sandra B. Wilson, Gary W. Knox, Zhanao Deng, Keona L. Nolan, and James Aldrich

A wild-type selection of heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and eight cultivars were evaluated in northern and southern Florida for 144 weeks. Onset of flowering generally began by April and May in southern Florida and 4 to 8 weeks later in northern Florida. Fruit was first noted 4 to 8 weeks after most cultivars began flowering. Landscape performance and fruit production varied widely among taxa and location. ‘AKA’, ‘Firehouse’, ‘Firepower’, and ‘Firestorm’ heavenly bamboo did not flower or fruit in either location. Greater plant growth, survival, and fruiting were observed in northern Florida than in southern Florida. In both locations, the wild-type form of heavenly bamboo produced more fruit than ‘Alba’, ‘Gulf Stream’, ‘Monfar’, and ‘Moyer’s Red’. Seed viability was fairly consistent among fruiting cultivars, ranging from 69% to 89%. Nuclear DNA content and ploidy analysis indicated that all nine nandina cultivars were diploids, suggesting that tetraploidy is not the genetic cause of the non-fruiting trait in ‘AKA’, ‘Firehouse’, ‘Firepower’, and ‘Firestorm’. Results of this study offer insight into future non-invasive heavenly bamboo breeding efforts and emphasize the importance of cultivar and geographic distinctions when regarding the invasive status of a species.

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Rosanna Freyre, Zhanao Deng, Gary W. Knox, Steven Montalvo, and Victor Zayas

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David M. Czarnecki II, Sandra B. Wilson, Gary W. Knox, Rosanna Freyre, and Zhanao Deng

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Zhanao Deng, Jinguo Hu, Fahrettin Goktepe, Brady A. Vick, and Brent K. Harbaugh

Cultivated caladiums are valued for their bright colorful leaves and are widely used in containers and landscapes. More than 1500 named cultivars have been introduced during the past 150 years, yet currently only about 100 cultivars are in commercial propagation in Florida. Caladium tubers produced in Florida account for 95% of the world supplies. Loss of caladium germplasm or genetic diversity has been a concern to future improvement of this plant. In addition, the relationship among the available cultivars, particularly those of close resemblance, has been lacking. This study was conducted to assess the genetic variability and relationship in commercial cultivars and species accessions. Fifty-seven major cultivars and 15 caladium species accessions were analyzed using the target region amplification polymorphism marker technique. This marker system does not involve DNA restriction or adaptor linking, but shares the same high throughput and reliability with the amplified fragment length polymorphism system (AFLP). Eight primer combinations amplified 379 scorable DNA fragments among the caladium samples. A high level of polymorphism was detected among the species accessions as well as among cultivars. These markers allowed differentiation of all the cultivars tested, including those hardly distinguishable morphologically. Clustering analysis based on these DNA fingerprints separated the cultivars into five clusters and Caladium lindenii far from other caladium species. The availability of this information will be very valuable for identifying and maintaining the core germplasm resources and will aid in selecting breeding parents for further improvement.

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Fahrettin Goktepe, Zhanao Deng, Brent K. Harbaugh, Teresa Seijo, and Natalia A. Peres

Caladiums, widely used in containers and landscapes as ornamental plants for their bright colorful leaves, are generally forced or grown from tubers. Commercial production of these tubers in central Florida is through dividing “seed” tubers and growing them in fields. Tuber quality is therefore of critical importance to success in container forcing, landscape use, and tuber production. Fusarium tuber rot (Fusarium solani) has been recognized as the most-destructive disease that affects caladium tuber quality. There is anecdotal evidence from growers indicating the existence of resistance in commercial caladium cultivars. To identify and confirm the source of fusarium tuber rot resistance in caladium, F. solani isolates have been collected from rotting tubers grown under different soil conditions and from different locations. The pathogenecity of these isolates has been tested through artificial inoculation of fresh harvested and/or stored tubers, and a number of highly virulent isolates have been identified. These isolates have been used to refine inoculation and disease evaluation techniques. Two techniques, spraying a conidial suspension onto fresh cut surfaces and inserting Fusarium-infested carnation leaf segments into artificial wounds, have proven to yield consistent resistance/susceptibility ratings among cultivars of known difference in resistance to fusarium tuber rot. Appropriate incubation temperatures and humidity seem to be very critical for disease development and evaluation. The two techniques have been used to evaluate 35 cultivars. Several cultivars, including `Candidum', showed a high level of resistance to fusarium tuber rot, and may be good breeding parent for developing new resistant cultivars.