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Timothy A. Rinehart, Brian E. Scheffler and Sandra M. Reed

Recent evidence suggests a close genetic relationship between Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb.) Ser. and D. febrifuga Lour., which supports previous morphological and DNA sequence data. This relationship was confirmed by the production of fertile intergeneric hybrids. We characterize the genetic diversity of available D. febrifuga plants, both cultivars and wild-collected taxa, as breeding material to improve H. macrophylla. Relatively high genetic diversity is seen among D. febrifuga, which splits into two main clusters. We also document considerable differences in genome size when compared with previously characterized D. febrifuga. Dichroa versicolor (Fortune) D.R. Hunt plants were also included and data suggest that D. versicolor could be a hybrid between H. macrophylla and D. febrifuga, similar to the intergeneric hybrids produced by recent breeding efforts. Because native H. macrophylla plants do not overlap extensively with D. febrifuga populations, we tested Hydrangea indochinensis Merr. as a possible parent because endemic H. indochinensis populations overlap regions where D. febrifuga and D. versicolor have been collected. However, results suggest that H. indochinensis does not share a genetic background with D. versicolor. Taxonomic revision of Dichroa is warranted, especially because we document several more intergeneric hybrids from self-sown, open-pollinated sources.

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Phillip A. Wadl, Xinwang Wang, John K. Moulton, Stan C. Hokanson, John A. Skinner, Timothy A. Rinehart, Sandra M. Reed, Vincent R. Pantalone and Robert N. Trigiano

Cross-species transferability of simple sequence repeats (SSRs) is common and allows SSRs isolated from one species to be applied to closely related species, increasing the use of previously isolated SSRs. The genus Cornus consists of 58 species that are ecologically and economically important. SSRs have previously been isolated from C. florida and C. kousa. In this study, 36 SSRs were tested on taxa from 18 Cornus species and hybrids for cross-species transferability and genetic diversity was calculated for each locus using polymorphism information content (PIC). Cross-species transferability of SSR loci was higher in more closely related species and PIC values were high. Evidence was found for conserved primer sites as determined by the amplification of SSR loci in the taxa examined. Polymerase chain reaction products were cloned and sequenced for three SSR loci (CF48, CF59, and CF124) and all individuals sequenced contained the appropriate repeat. Phylogenetic relationships of 14 Cornus species were inferred using nucleotide sequences of SSR locus CF48. The most parsimonious tree resulting from this analysis was in concordance with phylogenies based on matK and internal transcribed spacer sequences. The SSR loci tested in this study will be useful in future breeding, population, and genetic studies within Cornus.

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Phillip A. Wadl, Xinwang Wang, Andrew N. Trigiano, John A. Skinner, Mark T. Windham, Robert N. Trigiano, Timothy A. Rinehart, Sandra M. Reed and Vincent R. Pantalone

Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) and kousa dogwood (C. kousa) are popular ornamental species commonly used in the horticultural industry. Both trees are valued for their beautiful floral display and four-season appeal. Species-specific simple sequence repeat (SSR) loci were used to genotype and assess genetic diversity of 24 flowering dogwood cultivars and breeding lines and 22 kousa dogwood cultivars. Genetic diversity was determined by allele sharing distances and principal coordinate analysis and was high in both species. Molecular identification keys were developed for cultivars and breeding lines of each species using a few polymorphic SSRs loci (four in C. florida and five in C. kousa). Most (18 of 24) of the flowering dogwood and all (22 of 22) kousa dogwood accessions could be distinguished from each other using these SSRs; those that could not were resolved using DNA amplification fingerprinting. The reliability of both keys was assessed using five anonymous cultivars for each dogwood species, which were correctly identified using the molecular keys. The genetic information presented here will be useful for identification and verification of cultivars for nurseries and as molecular markers for breeders and researchers.