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  • Author or Editor: David M. Czarnecki II x
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David M. Czarnecki II and Zhanao Deng

Lantana camara, a member of the verbena family, is a popular ornamental yet highly invasive plant. It can escape from cultivation through seed dispersal and can contaminate native lantana species (Lantana depressa) through cross-pollination. Ploidy manipulation is being used as a genetic approach to produce sterile, noninvasive lantana cultivars. Polyploids have been observed in lantana (Lantana), but little information is available about the mechanisms for lantana polyploidization and the possible effects of natural polyploidization on the sterility (or fertility) of lantana triploids. In this study, we analyzed the ploidy level of more than 1500 lantana progeny from self, open, and/or controlled pollinations of 10 commercial cultivars and seven breeding lines. Our results confirmed the occurrence of unreduced gametes, specifically, unreduced female gametes (UFGs), in lantana. The frequency of UFG formation varied among commercial cultivars, and cultivars/breeding lines could be categorized into two groups: UFG producers and nonproducers. Tetraploid cultivars Gold, Pink Caprice, and Radiation fall into the UFG-producing group, while diploid cultivars Cream, Denholm White and Lola and tetraploid cultivars Carlos, Dallas Red and Irene belong to the nonproducer group. The frequency of UFG formation observed in nine UFG producers was 5.5% to 100%, varying with cultivar, growing condition, and/or pollination scheme. Progeny of the cross between ‘Carlos’ (seed parent) and ‘Gold’ (pollen parent) also showed the ability to produce UFGs, indicating that the trait (UFG formation) could be transmitted from ‘Gold’ to its progeny and is likely to be controlled by nuclear gene(s). Lantana triploids with or without the UFG-forming ability in its genetic background showed a significant difference in seed set: the former produced abundant seed when pollinated, while the latter produced little or no seed. The results stress the need to avoid using lantana with UFG-forming ability as parents in crosses designed to produce sterile triploids for invasiveness control. Additionally, the results from this study suggest multiple pathways for emergence and evolution of polyploids in cultivated and naturalized lantana populations.

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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.

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David M. Czarnecki II, Madhugiri Nageswara Rao, Jeffrey G. Norcini, Frederick G. Gmitter Jr and Zhanao Deng

Seeds of Coreopsis leavenworthii Torr. & Gray (Asteraceae) are being commercially produced but the lack of genetic diversity information has hindered growers and end users from addressing several critical issues affecting wild collection, commercial production, distribution, and the use of seeds. In this study, the genetic diversity and differentiation among natural, production, and introduced populations were analyzed at the molecular level using 320 amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. A high level of diversity [68.6% average polymorphism; total genetic diversity (H t) = 0.309] and a moderate level of genetic differentiation [total genetic diversity residing among populations (G st) = 0.226; Φst = 0.244; Bayesian analog of Nei's G st (G st-B) = 0.197] was detected among six natural populations—two each from northern, central, and southern Florida. Two distance-based clustering analyses, based on an individual's AFLP phenotypes or a population's allele frequencies, grouped natural populations into three clusters, concordant with our previous results from a common garden study of phenotypic variation. Clustering of populations was mostly according to their respective geographical origin within Florida. The correlation between geographical distances and pairwise F st values between populations was very significant (r = 0.855, P < 0.0001). Two central Florida natural populations were divergent and grouped into separate clusters, indicating that the existence of factors other than physical distance alone were contributing to genetic isolation. Three production populations maintained a level of genetic diversity comparable to that in the natural populations and were grouped with the natural populations from which the production populations were derived, suggesting that the genetic identity of the seed origin was maintained under production practices. The genetic diversity of the introduced population was comparable to that of the source populations (central Florida natural populations), but genetic shift seems to have occurred, causing the introduced population to cluster with local (northern Florida) populations where planted. The observed genetic differentiation among natural populations may indicate a need to develop appropriate zones within Florida for preservation of genetic diversity during seed collection, increase, and distribution. This high level of population differentiation also suggests a need to collect and analyze more natural populations across Florida and from Alabama for a better understanding of the species' genetic diversity and population structure across its distribution range.

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Zhanao Deng, Sandra B. Wilson, Xiaobao Ying and David M. Czarnecki II

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David M. Czarnecki II, Sandra B. Wilson, Gary W. Knox, Rosanna Freyre and Zhanao Deng

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David M. Czarnecki II, Zhanao Deng, Madguhuri N. Rao, Frederick G. Gmitter Jr., Young A. Choi, Jeffrey G. Norcini and David G. Clark

As one of the Florida's state wildflowers, Coreopsis leavenworthii is highly desirable for roadside plantings in all parts of the state. Seeds of this species are being produced by growers. Where should seed be produced for different ecotypes? Where can the seed be used? These are among questions that have arisen in commercial seed production and distribution. To address these questions, it was necessary to assess the levels of genetic diversity. Eleven populations (242 total individuals) were collected from different parts of Florida, grown at one location in central Florida, and observed for morphological variations. North Florida natural populations had more complex leaves, while south Florida natural populations had smaller flowers. Principal component analyses revealed that two of the seven characteristics studied accounted for as much as 88% of the morphological variations observed. Molecular diversity was analyzed by using the fluorescent amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) technique and the capillary sequencing system. Four primer combinations detected 320 AFLP fragments, of which 90.6% were polymorphic. The overall genetic diversity in the species was 0.2206 (estimated using AMOVA), of which 77.9% was within populations and 22.1% was among populations. The genetic distance among populations seemed to be loosely correlated with geographical distances. A high level of gene flow was found in several populations. Based on the results, a model has been developed to describe the genetic relationship of Coreopsis leavenworthii populations.