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Cary J. Hebert, Darren H. Touchell, Thomas G. Ranney and Anthony V. LeBude

Rhododendron L.‘Fragrantissimum Improved’ is an attractive cultivar with showy, fragrant flowers but has limited potential for breeding because it is a sterile wide hybrid. Protocols for in vitro regeneration and polyploid induction were developed for this cultivar as a means to potentially restore fertility and enhance ornamental traits. Combinations of thidiazuron (TDZ) at 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 μM and 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) at 0, 2.5, 5, or 10 μM were used to induce shoot regeneration from leaves. Shoot regeneration was optimized (68% of leaf segments produced shoots) using 8.8 μM TDZ and 10 μM NAA. To induce polyploidy, regenerative callus was treated with 7.5, 15, 30, 60, or 90 μM of the mitotic inhibitor oryzalin for 1, 3, 5, 7, or 14 d in various combinations. Oryzalin significantly affected survival and shoot regenerative capacity. A percentage of homogenous, tetraploid shoots was recovered from treatments of 30 μM oryzalin for 1 (13%) or 3 (13%) days and 7.5 μM oryzalin for 7 (20%) or 14 (7%) days.