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Amanda J. Hershberger, David A. Knauft and Carol D. Robacker

New ornamental cultivars must display horticultural superiority when grown in containers or in the field. The objectives of this study were to determine whether container or field is most appropriate for initial selection of ornamental traits in a Vitex breeding program by determining whether quantitative traits of breeding interest were expressed similarly in the two environments and by determining trait correlations in each environment. Segregating populations of Vitex and their parents were cloned and grown in containers and in the field. Ornamentally significant traits evaluated included first flower date, last flower date, flowering period, total weeks of flowering, inflorescence number, inflorescence length, flower rating, plant height, plant width, and Cercospora leaf spot resistance. Overall, field-grown plants were taller and wider than plants grown in containers. Field-grown plants also had a later first flowering date, longer flowering period, greater total weeks flowering, longer inflorescence length, larger inflorescence number, and more flowers on the inflorescence. Significant genotype × environment interactions were found for height and width measurements taken 19 and 33 weeks after planting, first flower date, total weeks in flower, inflorescence number, flower rating, and Cercospora rating. Most trait correlations were either non-significant or so low so that selection of these traits would be independent of other traits. High correlations were present in both environments between height measurements taken at 19 weeks and 33 weeks after planting. High correlation in the field and moderate correlation in containers were found between width measurements taken 19 and 33 weeks after planting. Correlation was high between flowering period and first flower date in both the field and container. Correlation between last flower date and flowering period was high in containers and moderate in the field. High correlation was present in both environments between flowering period and total weeks of flowering. Containers were determined to be best for initial selection for most traits having significant genotype × environment effects.

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Amanda J. Hershberger, Tracie M. Jenkins and Carol Robacker

Despite the ecologic and ornamental potential of southeastern U.S. native Spigelia, little is known about the intraspecific or the interpopulation genetic variation. The southeastern U.S. native Spigelia habitat is becoming more and more fragmented as a result of human activity, making it imperative to gain an understanding of natural genetic variation among and within species and populations for the purpose of obtaining variability for plant breeding and preserve the genetic variability in Spigelia. Therefore, the objective of this study was to use amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis to determine interspecific and intraspecific genetic variation and to evaluate gene flow. Thirteen populations of two species of native Spigelia, S. marilandica (SM), S. gentianoides var. gentianoides (SGG), and S. gentianoides var. alabamensis (SGA), were analyzed using four primer pairs that amplified a total of 269 bands. Based on analysis of molecular variance and estimates of Nei’s coefficients of gene diversity (percentage of polymorphic loci, average genetic diversity within populations, average genetic diversity within species, and proportion of species genetic diversity attributed to among population variation), the majority of variation found in Spigelia occurs within populations. Both among-species and among-population variation was low, likely the effect of common ancestry as well as relatively frequent introgression among individuals (and populations) of Spigelia. When all individuals were evaluated using Nei’s unbiased genetic distances and viewed as a unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean phenogram, three main groups were shown, one with two samples of SGG from one population, one with 13 individuals from both SGG populations used in this study, and one with all of the SM, SGA, and remaining SGG individuals. Further evaluation using STRUCTURE software showed introgression between populations and species, although all allele clusters have not entirely introgressed into all populations. The significance of these results is discussed in relation to breeding in Spigelia.

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David M. Czarnecki II, Amanda J. Hershberger, Carol D. Robacker, David G. Clark and Zhanao Deng

Lantana camara L., a popular nursery and landscape plant, is categorized as an invasive species in Florida, because it produces viable pollen and cross-pollinates with the native species Lantana depressa Small. The invasive potential of L. camara is a challenging issue for the nursery and landscape industry, so sterile non-invasive cultivars are needed to replace fertile invasive ones. This study aimed to determine the ploidy level and male fertility of both commercial L. camara cultivars and breeding lines to identify male-sterile cultivars and assess the effectiveness of sterile triploid production in L. camara. A polyploid series was identified among 32 L. camara cultivars and breeding lines. Male fertility, based on pollen stainability, varied widely among the cultivars/breeding lines. Ploidy level was the most important factor determining L. camara pollen stainability/male sterility. On average, diploids exhibited the highest pollen stainability (64.6%) followed by tetraploids (45.1%), pentaploids (34.6%), and hexaploids (18.0%). Triploids showed the lowest pollen stainability (9.3%), suggesting that generating triploids would be an effective genetic approach to producing sterile L. camara and reducing its pollen-mediated invasiveness. Pollen stainability of triploid cultivars, Balandpawn (LandmarkTM Pink Dawn PP15,516), Lemon Drop, Miss Huff, New Gold, New Red Lantana, Red Butler, Red Spread Lantana, Samson Lantana, and Sunset Lantana was consistently below 10%. A number of triploid cultivars had pollen stainability approaching 20% to 30%, indicating a necessity for careful examination and screening of newly produced triploids to ensure high sterility in selected triploids. Pollen stainability variation was observed within ploidy levels, implying the existence of other genetic and environmental factors that influence the pollen stainability/male fertility of L. camara. Results from this study suggest that there is excellent potential to develop genetically sterile cultivars in L. camara for the U.S. nursery and landscape industry.