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Kelly J. Vining, Ryan N. Contreras, Martin Ranik and Steven H. Strauss

Because cultivation of exotic woody ornamental plants has led to establishment of a number of invasive species, there is considerable interest in breeding methods to reduce the propensity for spread. We review progress in conventional breeding and transgenic biotechnology approaches to producing sterile forms of ornamental woody plants. Conventional forms of inducing sterility, including induction of polyploidy, interspecific hybridization, and mutagenesis, are generally inexpensive and can be applied to a diversity of species at low to moderate cost. They have also been shown to be capable of producing commercially successful cultivars. In contrast, despite a variety of highly promising and rapidly developing approaches using transgenic methods, the inability to efficiently regenerate and genetically transform most ornamental species makes application of these innovations highly problematic. Moreover, because of the fragmented pattern of ornamental nursery ownership, the numerous species and varieties used, and the high regulatory cost for permits to sell most types of transgenic varieties (even when their environmental risk of spread has been reduced by sterility), application of transgenic methods is largely infeasible. A combination of fundamental regulatory reform and expanded biological research on generalized transformation and sterility methods is needed to overcome these barriers.

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Kelly J. Vining, Q Zhang, C.A. Smith and T.M. Davis

Resistance gene analog (RGA) sequences were obtained from four Mentha longifolia (L.) Huds. accessions using degenerate polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers targeting the conserved nucleotide binding site domain found in many plant disease resistance genes. Seven distinct RGA families were identified. All M. longifolia RGAs showed similarity to sequences of the non-toll-interleukin 1 receptor R gene class. In addition, degenerate PCR primers based on the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) verticillium wilt resistance (Ve) genes were used to PCR-amplify a 445-base pair (bp) Ve-like sequence from M. longifolia that had ≈57% predicted amino acid identity with Ve. Mint-specific primers based on the original mint Ve sequence were used to obtain mint-specific Ve sequences from four M. longifolia accessions and from peppermint (Mentha ×piperita L.) cultivar ‘Black Mitcham’ that had 95% to 100% predicted amino acid identity to the original mint Ve sequence. Inverse PCR was then used to obtain flanking mint Ve sequence from one M. longifolia accession extending the mint Ve sequence to 1077 bp. This is the first report of RGA sequences in the Lamiaceae and the first report of Ve-like sequences obtained with degenerate PCR primers.