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David Byrne

Fruit and ornamental breeders were surveyed about their use of molecular markers in either their breeding programs or in their related research programs. Responses were obtained from over 100 fruit and ornamental breeding programs from throughout the world. Of these, less than 50% used molecular markers in their programs. The two most common uses of these markers were for studies in plant identification and diversity. These were followed by the use of markers in developing molecular maps, in discovering molecular tags and/or trying to identify the genes for specific plant traits, for marker assisted selection, and finally, for the elucidation of plant taxonomy. In conclusion, although there is much research in this area, few programs are actually using markers in the context of an applied breeding program. The major reason for this situation is the lack of available markers and the cost of using these markers to screen large numbers of progeny. Those that use markers in their breeding tend to use them to verify the genotype of the parents or confirm the genotype of selected seedlings rather than screen unselected seedlings.

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Natalie Anderson* and David Byrne

Poor germination in Rosa has been an obstacle to breeding programs for years. Rose breeders generally stratify rose seed under cool, moist conditions for 4-10 weeks by planting directly into the seedling flat/bed or in a small container followed by planting the germinating seed into the seedling flat/bed. This experiment used 9 genotypes and compared these two approaches combined with variations in the stratification media (sand, perlite, sphagnum moss and Sunshine Mix #4). Over all stratification media and genotypes, germination was not influenced by whether the seed was stratified directly in the seedling flat/bed or in a small container. However, the process of transplantation of the delicate germinating seed from the small container to the flat/bed resulted in greater mortality of the germinating seedlings. he stratification media affected the germination of the rose seed. Sunshine Mix #4 gave the best germination as compared to all other media types tested. As expected the germination of the genotypes varied greatly, ranging from 0.7% to 37.1%.

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David H. Byrne

Despite the hundreds of existing stone fruit (Prunus spp.) cultivars used for fresh market, there is a continuing need to develop new stone fruit cultivars as the requirements of the industry change. Over the last 20 years there has been a shift toward private breeding as the public sector decreases its support of these long-range programs. As a result there are fewer public breeding programs and many of those still operating protect their releases and partially fund their programs with royalty payments. Other trends that are shaping the development of new stone fruit cultivars are a need for smaller or more easily managed tree architecture, a trend toward the use of fewer agricultural chemicals, the expansion of production zones into the milder winter zones to allow year-round availability of stone fruit, a general diversification of fruit types being marketed, the increased awareness of the health benefits of fruit consumption, the need for better and more consistent quality, and given the global marketing of these fruit the increased need for enhanced postharvest qualities. The breeding programs of the world are responding to these trends and working toward developing the cultivars for the world markets of the future.

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Unaroj Boonprakob and David H. Byrne

Diploid plums such as Prunus salicina, P. simonii, P. cerasifera, P. americana, P. angustifolia, P. mexicana, and their hybrids have a high level of RAPD polymorphisms. Of 71 successfully used primers, there are 417 reproducible RAPD markers and only 55 (13%) markers are not polymorphic. Genetic relationships of these diploid plums based on RAPD data is estimated using genetic distance (GD) defined as GDij = 1 – Sij, where Sij is similarity coefficient. Two similarity coefficients, Jaccard's and simple matching coefficient, are compared. Simple matching always yields higher similarity coefficients. Genetic distance within and between each gene pool: California, southeastern U.S., foreign, is estimated. Genetic distances of these diploid plums ranged from 0.32 to 0.68, and agreed well with the natural geographic distribution of the species. The cluster analysis using unweighted pair-group methods using arithmetic averages (UPGMA) was used to construct phenograms to summarize the relationships among these cultivated diploid plums and plum species.

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Terry Bacon and David H. Byrne

Mild winter weather conditions reduce fruit yield and quality of many peach cultivars grown in the Medium Chill Region of the United States. Peach fruit shape instability limits marketing options for growers in this region. The Stonefruit Breeding Program at Texas A&M University evaluated a wide range of peach cultivars and breeder selections from throughout the world during the mild winters of 1988-198 9 and 1989-1990. Fruit shape response was highly variable among genotypes with similar chilling requirements. The implication of this is that the potential is high for eliminating fruit shape instability due to highly variable winter conditions in the Medium Chill Peach Production Region.

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David H. Byrne and Natalie Anderson

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Unaroj Boonprakob and David H. Byrne

Six controlled crosses of cultivated and advanced selection Japanese-type plums adapted to southeast and southwest regions of the United States were made in 1990 and 1991. Over 800 seedlings from these crosses along with open pollinated seedlings of the parents were established in Suiting nurseries. The long range objective of this study is to determine linkage relationships between RAPD markers and commercially important traits (soluble solid, resistance to bacterial leaf spot, chilling requirement, fruit development period). The first step in the projects to characterize RAPD genotypes in the progenies. Eighty oligodecamers have been screened and 57 yielded successful reactions with an average of two to three bands per primer. The variability and inheritance of the RAPD markers in these plum populations will be described.

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David H. Byrne and Unaroj Boonprakob

The Thai Tiger series of low-chill peaches are being released for use in subtropical or tropical highland regions and particularly for use in the northern highlands of Thailand to expand the harvest season of the present low-chill variety grown, ‘EarliGrande’. The Thai Tiger series are yellow-fleshed acid-sweet peach varieties that produce excellent yields of firm peaches and will allow a continuous harvest from early April until early May in the northern highlands of Thailand.