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  • Author or Editor: Michael J. Havey x
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Bulb onion (Allium cepa L.) is a globally significant crop, but the structure of genetic variation within and among populations is poorly understood. We broadly surveyed genetic variation in a cultivated onion germplasm using simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers and sequenced regions flanking expressed sequence tag (EST)-SSRs to develop single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. Samples from 89 inbred and open-pollinated (OP) bulb onion populations of wide geographical adaptation and four related Allium L. accessions were genotyped with 56 EST-SSR and four genomic SSR markers. Multivariate analysis of genetic distances among populations resolved long-day, short-day, and Indian populations. EST-SSR markers frequently revealed two major alleles at high frequency in OP populations. The median proportion of single-locus polymorphic loci was 0.70 in OP and landrace populations compared with 0.43 in inbred lines. Resequencing of 24 marker amplicons revealed additional SNPs in 17 (68%) and five SNP assays were developed from these, suggesting that resequencing of EST markers can readily provide SNP markers for purity testing of inbreds and other applications in Allium genetics.

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Garlic (Allium sativum L.) has been cultivated by asexual propagation since time immemorial. The discovery of male-fertile garlic accessions has opened a venue for genetic studies and improvement through sexual recombination. An S1 family of 84 plants was generated from a single male-fertile heterozygous plant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Plant Introduction 540316 and used to identify the first genetic linkages in garlic based on single nucleotide polymorphisms, simple sequence repeats, and randomly amplified polymorphic DNAs. Thirty-seven markers formed nine linkage groups covering 415 centimorgans (cM) with average distance of 15 cM between loci; other 16 loci remained unlinked. A male fertility locus was placed on the map. This first genetic map of garlic is a seminal step toward the genetic improvement of garlic and eventual marker-assisted breeding.

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Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) are currently among the most valuable and widely cultivated floriculture crops in the world. Attractive floral display is a primary goal for breeders of impatiens. Although breeders have selected for this trait, little consideration has been given to floral longevity as a means to increase the floral display of bedding crops. In this study, 259 commercial inbred lines of impatiens were grown in a greenhouse and evaluated for floral longevity as defined by the time between when a flower was completely open to when all of the petals abscised from the pedicle. Mean floral longevity of inbreds ranged from 3.3 ± 0.4 to 15.8 ± 2.5 days. Twelve inbreds (six with long floral longevity and six with short floral longevity) were chosen and crossed in a half diallel to create 66 hybrids that were analyzed for floral longevity in three greenhouse environments. Mean floral longevity of hybrids across greenhouse environments ranged from 2.8 ± 0.4 to 14.1 ± 2.8 days. Significant general (GCA) and specific (SCA) combining abilities for floral longevity were detected. GCA mean squares were 37 times larger than SCA mean squares, revealing that additive genetic effects play a more important role in the inheritance of floral longevity in impatiens. This information, coupled with the significant amount of variation for floral longevity among inbreds, indicates that there is good potential for breeding for floral longevity in impatiens to improve the floral display of hybrids.

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Onion pungency is a major quality attribute with many consumers demanding less pungent onions. In recent years, some growers and retailers have attempted to measure pungency of onions produced in different regions to guarantee a desired level of pungency. However, there are few data on the variability among laboratories using standardized protocols to estimate relative levels of pungencies. Onion cultivars were grown in replicated trials at three locations. Random samples of bulbs from each experimental unit were harvested and shipped to at least three cooperating laboratories, each of which measured soluble solids content (SSC) and pungencies using the same techniques. As expected, cultivars and environments showed significant (P < 0.001) differences. For all three trials, laboratories were a highly significant source of variation (P < 0.024 to 0.001) for measurements of SSC and pungency. Therefore, one cannot make recommendations on relative pungencies of the same lots of onions measured by different labs. The onion research community must identify specific procedures to reduce variation among laboratories to develop a more repeatable standardized assay for the measurement of onion pungency.

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