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Ann Marie Connor, James J. Luby, Cindy B.S. Tong, Chad E. Finn, and James F. Hancock

Dietary antioxidants may have a role in preventing some of the chronic diseases in humans resulting from free radical oxidation of lipids and other cellular components. Blueberries (Vaccinium L. sp.) are considered one of the best fresh fruit sources of antioxidants, and there is the potential to increase the antioxidant activity further through breeding. Thus, the variability of fruit antioxidant activity (AA) was examined among a set of 16 highbush and interspecific hybrid cultivars grown at locations in Minnesota (MN), Michigan (MI), and Oregon (OR) over 2 years (1998 and 1999) to determine effects of genotype, year, and location. Nine cultivars were common to all three locations in both years. Antioxidant activity, total phenolic content (TPH), and total anthocyanin content (ACY), were determined in triplicate samples from each genotype. Cultivars differed significantly (P ≤ 0.05) in AA, TPH, and ACY both within and over locations. The single location mean AA for all cultivars changed significantly between the 2 years in OR and in MI, while the single location mean for TPH differed between the 2 years in MN and MI. Changes in cultivar rank were significant for AA, TPH, and ACY between years within each location. Significant changes in rank for TPH and ACY were also noted between pairs of locations as well. Pearson's correlation for AA (based on cultivar means) appeared highest between MN and OR (r = 0.90) and MN and MI (r = 0.69) in 1998; correlations between locations for the combined years were 0.74 for MN and OR, 0.55 for MN and MI and 0.45 for MI and OR. For the group of nine cultivars, AA correlated well with TPH within each location, with r ranging from 0.67 to 0.95 for data from individual and combined years. Correlation of AA with ACY at each location was lower than that for AA with TPH, in both individual and combined years. This study demonstrates significant genotype× environment interaction for AA in blueberry.

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P.M. Lyrene

Diploid plants in Vaccinium section Cyanococcus, including plants of V. darrowi Camp, V. atrococcum. Heller (diploid V. corymbosum L.), a V. atrococcum × V. darrowi F1 hybrid, and a V. atrococcum × V. elliottii Chapmn. F1 hybrid, were hand pollinated in a greenhouse with pollen from diploid V. arboreum Marsh. (Section Batodendron). The resulting seeds were germinated and the seedlings were transplanted to a high-density field nursery. Forty of these F1 intersectional hybrids were selected after 2 1/2 years and transplanted to a 1.5 × 4-m spacing. Most of these plants were vigorous and flowered heavily in subsequent years, but only a small percentage of the flowers produced fruit. In 1990, however, >4000 berries were harvested from the 35 surviving plants. Open-pollinated seed from a much smaller number of berries was planted in Dec. 1987; these seeds produced ≈200 seedlings, some of which had moderate to high fruit set in a field nursery in 1989. Six of these seedlings, which were selected for high vigor, high fruit set, and characteristics intermediate between section Cyanococcus and section Batodendron, had fruit set ranging from 19.4% to 92.7% when pollinated with pollen from tetraploid V. corymbosum cultivars. One of the six seedlings was highly self-fruitful, and some intercrosses among the six seedlings produced much viable seed. Large-scale introgression of V. arboreum genes into tetraploid highbush cultivars likely will be possible by the methods used in this study.

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Dario J. Chavez and Paul M. Lyrene

Partial to complete self-incompatibility is normal in most Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) species. Wild blueberry plants of several Florida provenances and species were self- and cross-pollinated in a greenhouse free of pollinators. Fruit set of V. darrowii Camp (2x), V. corymbosum L. (4x), V. arboreum Marsh (2x), and F1 (V. darrowii × V. corymbosum) hybrids was higher after cross-pollination than after self-pollination. Partial to complete self-incompatibility was present in V. darrowii, V. corymbosum, and their tetraploid F1 hybrids. The three V. arboreum clones tested were fully self-incompatible. Intra- and interpopulation crosses in V. corymbosum, V. darrowii, and V. darrowii × V. corymbosum hybrids were highly successful, and self-pollination reduced all fertility parameters. Advanced selections of V. corymbosum were the most self-compatible clones tested, possibly because self-compatibility has been increased by breeders selecting for reliable fruit set in large fields planted with one or a few clones. One southern highbush selection and two F1 hybrids had fruit set of more than 70% after self-pollination. These plants could be potentially used to breed plants that could be planted in single blocks providing reliable yield.

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Paul M. Lyrene

Over several years, we obtained no hybrids after pollinating thousands of flowers of cultivated tetraploid highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L. hybrids, section Cyanococcus) with pollen from diploid V. arboreum Marshall (section Batodendron, sparkleberry), a drought-tolerant blueberry relative native in the southeastern United States. In an effort to produce tetraploid V. arboreum that could be crossed with highbush blueberry, more than 30,000 seeds were soaked in aqueous colchicine (0.1% to 0.2%) for 24 h or more. The seeds were germinated, and putative tetraploid plants (selected based on morphological characteristics) were grown long enough to obtain pollen for microscopic examination. Twelve selected seedlings that produced unusually large pollen tetrads were used as pollen parents in crosses with more than 40 different tetraploid highbush cultivars and advanced selections. Eighty-six crosses, in which a total of 17,968 flowers were pollinated, gave 1,569 plants that were verified as hybrids after one growing season in the field. Hybrids varied from very weak to quite vigorous, some equaling highbush cultivars in vigor. A few vigorous hybrids were male-sterile, but most had at least some pollen fertility. Of the most vigorous F1 hybrids, 12 of the most fertile, based on the amount of pollen shed and on the microscopic appearance of the pollen, were backcrossed to highbush cultivars, and 3919 backcross seedlings were obtained. These varied widely in vigor but averaged higher in vigor than their F1 interspecific hybrid parents.

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C.E. Finn, J.F. Hancock, T. Mackey, and S. Serçe

Twenty blueberry (Vaccinium sp. L.) families were planted in Michigan and Oregon to determine variability among families, locations and the importance of family×location interaction. The families were generated at Michigan State University from crosses among parents with a diverse genetic background. Seedlings were planted in field locations in Corvallis, Ore., and East Lansing, Mich., in 1995 and managed following standard commercial blueberry production practices with no insecticide or fungicide applications. In 1998-2000 the plants were evaluated for survival, bloom date, ripening date, plant growth and the fruit were scored for crop load, color, picking scar, firmness and size. All traits, except fruit color, varied significantly between locations. Plants in Oregon had a 36% greater survival rate and grew to be much larger, 80% taller and 104% wider, than those in Michigan. Families in Oregon flowered earlier in the year than those in Michigan but ripened at a similar time. Between locations, family differences were only evident for survival and fruit color. In Oregon, there were differences among families for all traits whereas in Michigan only survival, ripening date, plant height and width, and picking scar differed significantly. The family × environment interaction was not significant for crop load, fruit color and fruit firmness, so individuals selected on the basis of crop load, fruit color and fruit firmness should perform similarly in either location. There was a significant family × environment interaction for the other traits including survival, bloom date, ripening date, ripening interval, plant height and width, and for picking scar. Therefore, there is a need for individual selection programs at each location. Genotypes well adapted to Michigan may also do well in Oregon, but numerous promising genotypes could be missed for Oregon, if families are first selected in Michigan. The loss of numerous individuals due to winter cold may have reduced levels of variability in Michigan.

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Creighton L. Gupton and James M. Spiers

A study of leaf chlorosis in rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Reade) grown in soil containing 300 to 400 ppm diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA)-extracted Mn revealed no relationship between leaf Mn content and chlorosis. A second study was conducted to estimate heritability of the content of Mn, Fe, and certain other mineral elements that have been associated with leaf chlorosis and to determine the genetic relationships among shoot dry weight, visual rating, and the mineral elements in rabbiteye blueberry. Heritability estimates were high for all variables except Fe, suggesting that changes in Mn, Zn, Ca, Mg, or K contents could be expected from phenotypic recurrent selection. However, manipulation of mineral content probably would not ameliorate the Fe chlorosis. The high heritability of shoot dry weight and visual rating and the high genetic correlation between these variables suggest that plants resistant to mineral effects on Fe metabolism can be selected on the basis of visual rating.

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Jungmin Lee, Chad E. Finn, and Ronald E. Wrolstad

The total anthocyanin and total phenolic content of wild (samples from 4 populations) and cultivated (samples from 32 populations) Pacific Northwestern American Vaccinium species (V. membranaceum, V. ovalifolium, and V. deliciosum) were evaluated. The total monomeric anthocyanin content of all huckleberry samples analyzed ranged from 101 to 400 mg/100 g (expressed as cyanidin-3-glucoside), and the total phenolics varied from 367 to 1286 mg/100 g (expressed as gallic acid). Cluster analysis separated the samples into four different groups based on their anthocyanin and total phenolic content. Two groups had greater anthocyanin pigment and total phenolics; one consisted entirely of cultivated V. ovalifolium (LIG10, VAC485, VAC487, LIG33, LIG9, LIG2, and VAC349) and the other consisted of just cultivated V. membranaceum (LIG25). Significant variations in total anthocyanins, total phenolics, and the ratio of the total anthocyanins and total phenolics were observed among the different V. membranaceum, V. ovalifolium, and V. deliciosum populations cultivated in the Willamette Valley, Ore. The profile of the individual anthocyanins of the wild V. membranaceum, wild V. ovalifolium, and V. corymbosum `Rubel' were conducted by high-performance liquid chromatography. The chromatograms of V. membranaceum, V. ovalifolium, and `Rubel' were distinctly different in the amounts of delphinidin, cyanidin, and malvidin glycosides.

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Paul M. Lyrene and Wayne B. Sherman

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Chad E. Finn, James J. Luby, Carl J. Rosen, and Peter D. Ascher

Progenies from crosses among eight highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.), lowbush (V. angustifolium Ait.), and V. corymbosum/V. angustifolium hybrid-derivative parents were evaluated in vitro at low (5.0) and high (6.0) pH for vitality, height, and dry weight. Succinic acid and 2[N- morpholino]ethanesulfonic acid (Mes) effectively maintained pH in the medium and rhizosphere. The pH regime did not affect percent radicle emergence from seed or survival; however, percent seed germination was slightly lower at high pH. The parental general combining ability (GCA), reciprocal and maternal, but not the specific combining ability (SCA) variance components were significant for plant vitality, height, and dry weight. The GCA variance components were six to 26 times larger than the SCA variance components for the plant growth traits. Variation due to pH regime was significant for vitality and dry weight but not for plant height. The progenies of parents with high percent lowbush ancestry were taller at both pH levels than those with less such ancestry. Little variation was apparent for higher pH tolerance as measured by dry weight; however, the GCA effects suggested that the progenies of some parents performed better than others at high pH. Vaccinium angustifolium parents differed in the extent to which tolerance to high pH was transmitted. In vitro screening in concert with a traditional breeding program should be effective in improving blueberry tolerance to higher pH.

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Timothy Laverty and N. Vorsa

Vaccinium ashei (6x) /V. corymbosum (4x) pentaploid hybrids backcrossed to V. ashei yield aneuploid progeny ranging in chromosome number from 5x to 6x levels. Six backcross aneuploids having chromosome numbers of 2n = 61, 62, 64, 66, 68, and 70 were selected from this backcross and crossed in a complete diallel mating design and backcrossed (as female parents) to two V. ashei cultivars and an interspecific hexaploid hybrid. Fertility variables measured were percent fruit set, total seed per berry, developed seed per berry, percent developed seed per berry, percent seed germination, developed seed per pollination, and seedlings per pollination. A significant linear and positive relationship was found between chromosome number and all seven fertility variables. However, regression accounted for 30% or less of the variation among crosses. Diallel analysis revealed that general combining ability was the major contributing effect for all seven variables, followed by reciprocal effects. Specific combining ability was not significant. The second backcross to the hexaploid level suggested significant effects due to both the BC1 aneuploid and hexaploid genotypes and to a significant genotype × genotype interaction for three of the variables. All six aneuploids were either fully or partially self-sterile. The findings of this study substantiate earlier suggestions that pentaploids in blueberry can be used to facilitate bilateral transfer of characteristics between the tetraploid and hexaploid levels in blueberry.