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Xingbo Wu and Lisa W. Alexander

Hydrangea macrophylla (bigleaf hydrangea) is one of the most important floral and nursery crops worldwide. However, breeding of new bigleaf hydrangea cultivars has been hampered by a long breeding cycle and lack of genetic resources. This study investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of 82 bigleaf hydrangea cultivars using single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) originated from genotyping-by-sequencing. A total of 5803 high-quality SNPs were discovered in a bigleaf hydrangea cultivar panel. A phylogenetic analysis and analysis of molecular variance based on discovered SNPs concluded the taxonomic classification of H. macrophylla ssp. serrata as a subspecies of H. macrophylla. Principal component analysis confirmed ‘Preziosa’ as a hybrid between H. macrophylla ssp. macrophylla and H. macrophylla ssp. serrata. In addition, the cultivar Lady in Red was also found to be a hybrid between the two subspecies. The population structure analysis identified three groups among the 82 cultivars. All H. macrophylla ssp. serrata cultivars belonged to one group, and two groups were revealed within H. macrophylla ssp. macrophylla. The separation within H. macrophylla ssp. macrophylla indicated a second gene pool due to breeding efforts that have targeted similar breeding goals for bigleaf hydrangea. The discovered SNPs and the phylogenetic results will facilitate further exploitation and understanding of phylogenetic relationships of bigleaf hydrangea and will serve as a reference for hydrangea breeding improvements.

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Sandra M. Reed and Lisa W. Alexander

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Lisa W. Alexander, Anthony Witcher and Michael A. Arnold

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Lisa W. Alexander, Anthony L. Witcher and Fulya Baysal-Gurel

Witchhazel (Hamamelis sp.) cultivars are now available in an array of forms and flower colors, including several native, pollinator-friendly cultivars. However, little is known about response of witchhazel cultivars to powdery mildew (Podosphaera biuncinata) or the growth and flowering characteristics of witchhazel cultivars in a nursery field production setting. To provide growth, flowering, and disease incidence data to nursery growers, a cultivar trial including 23 cultivars of witchhazel representing five species was planted Apr. 2016 in McMinnville, TN. Plant growth, flowering density, length of bloom, and foliar disease incidence were evaluated over three growing seasons between May 2016 and Oct. 2018. ‘Zuccariniana’ japanese witchhazel (H. japonica) and ‘Sunglow’ common witchhazel (H. virginiana) showed the greatest height increase during the trial, and ‘Sunglow’ also added the most width during the trial. Cultivars with negative height or width growth included Sweet Sunshine chinese witchhazel (H. mollis) and hybrid witchhazels (H. ×intermedia) Aphrodite, Twilight, and Barmstedt Gold. Ten of the 23 cultivars experienced winter injury in the form of stem necrosis. Root crown sprouts were observed for all cultivars at least once during the trial. ‘Wisely Supreme’ chinese witchhazel had the longest bloom period, followed by ‘Westerstede’ and ‘Twilight’ hybrid witchhazels, whereas ‘Quasimodo’ vernal witchhazel (H. vernalis) had the greatest density of flowers. The hybrid witchhazel cultivars Aphrodite, Nina, and Arnold Promise and the common witchhazel cultivars Green Thumb and Sunglow were resistant to powdery mildew under trial conditions in all 3 years. ‘Twilight’ and ‘Barmstedt Gold’ hybrid witchhazel, ‘Little Suzie’ common witchhazel, ‘Wisley Supreme’ chinese witchhazel, and ‘Shibamichi Red’ japanese witchhazel were moderately resistant to powdery mildew.