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Robert Griesbach* and Ronald Beck

The genetic distance for three Petunia species was determined based upon an intron in the chalcone synthase gene. The sequence of the intron was obtained for P. integriflolia ssp. integriflolia var. depauperata, P. integriflolia ssp. integriflolia Torres ecotype, P. altiplana and P. littoralis. These species are very closely related and believed by some taxonomists to be part of a large single species complex. In all the taxa, the intron contained multiple repeated and inverted sequences. The P. integriflolia ssp. integriflolia Torres ecotype intron differed from the P. integriflolia subsp. integriflolia var. depauperata intron in 3 of 930 nucleotides. While, the P. littoralis intron differed from the P. integrifolia subsp. integrifolia var. depauperata intron in 15 of 930 nucleotides. As compared to the P. integrifolia subsp. integriflolia var. depauperata intron, the intron in P. altiplana intron was longer (1125 bp), had a section of 338 nucleotides with a completely different sequence, and differed by 27 of 787 nucleotides in the common sequence.

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Robert Griesbach and Ron Beck

Differences in structural gene expression are responsible for a wide range of responses from human cancer to patterned flowers. Gene silencing is one of the ways in which gene expression is controlled. We have developed a model system to study gene silencing using a gene silencing mutation in Petunia ×hybrida (Star mutation) and the ability of certain viruses to reverse the silencing mutation. This model system was used to characterize how the Star flower color pattern was controlled.

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Robert J. Griesbach

Flower color results from the interaction of a pigment (anthocyanin) with a co-pigment (usually a flavonone or flavonol) at a specific pH. At more alkaline pHs (pH 5 to 6), an anthocyanin/co-pigment complex is blue; while at more acidic pHs (pH 3-4), the same anthocyanin/copigment complex is red. In Phalaenopsis pulcherrima, a mutation in pH resulted in a bluer flower color. The difference in pH between the normal-colored magenta flowers (pH 5.8) and mutant violet flowers (pH 5.5) was due to a single co-dominantly inherited gene.

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Rosanna Freyre and Robert J. Griesbach

Plants of Anagallis monelli in their native habitat or in cultivation have either blue or orange flowers. Clonally propagated cultivars, seed obtained from commercial sources and the resulting plants were grown in a greenhouse at the University of New Hampshire. F2 progeny obtained from hybridization between blue- and orange-flowered plants had blue, orange or red flowers. There were no significant differences in petal pH of orange-, blue-, and red-flowered plants that could explain the differences in flower color. Anthocyanidins were characterized by high-performance liquid chromatography. Results indicated that blue color was due to malvidin, orange to pelargonidin, and red to delphinidin. Based on our segregation data, we propose a three-gene model to explain flower color inheritance in this species.

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Mojdeh Bahar and Robert J. Griesbach

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and universities have a long and successful history of developing enhanced germplasm and cultivars that are transferred through public release. Today, nonprotected public release may not be the most appropriate mechanism. Intellectual property (IP) protection as it pertains to the plant germplasm and cultivars is involved and complex. Unlike other scientific areas, in the United States there are three distinct mechanisms to protect plants—namely, utility patents, plant patents, and plant variety protection certificates. Each of these mechanisms offers different criteria for protection and covers different types of plants. This article is a practical tool to help research institutions and scientists decide when to consider releasing a germplasm or cultivar, which factors to consider, who should be involved, and whether IP protection is appropriate.

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John R. Stommel and Robert J. Griesbach

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John R. Stommel and Robert J. Griesbach

Considerable diversity exists in Capsicum L. germplasm for fruit and leaf shape, size and color, as well as plant habit. This morphological diversity, together with diverse ripe fruit color and varying hues of green to purple and variegated foliar pigmentation, affords myriad opportunities to develop unique cultivars for ornamental applications. The Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture announces the release of a new pepper [Capsicumannuum (L.)] cultivar named `Black Pearl'. `Black Pearl' is intended for ornamental applications and affords growers a new crop to add to their bedding and landscape plant assortment. `Black Pearl' combines black foliage with erect clusters of small round red-pigmented fruit. The vibrant fruit and foliage colors of this new cultivar add interest to the summer and fall garden. Black Pearl' has been trialed extensively for use as a bedding plant where its compact growth habit, black foliage, and brightly colored fruit provide an attractive ornamental display. Limited evaluations suggest that this cultivar is equally well suited for pot culture under high light conditions. `Black Pearl' was designated a 2006 All America Selection award winner after completion of national trials in 2004. `Black Pearl' is a release made available from a cooperative research and development agreement with Pan American Seed Company. Seed of `Black Pearl' is available from Pan American Seed Company, 622 Town Road, West Chicago, IL 60185. Plant Variety Protection for `Black Pearl' is pending.

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Mark S. Roh, Robert Griesbach, and Roger Lawson

Flowering responses of two Anigozanthos hybrids were investigated. Flowering of 20-week old `Regal Claw' and A. manglesii x A. flavidus either from the main fan or the lateral fans was accelerated when plants received a night temp of 13 C, regardless of the photoperiod treatments. Temperature was the major factor controlling flowering of Anigo- zanthos hybrids. Flowering was accelerated from the lateral fans by treating plants at 15.5 or 18 C and a long day (LD) photoperiod. There were fewer than 2.5 branches in the stem at 18 C compared to more than 4.0 branches at 13 C. A night temp of 13 C was optimum for early flowering and for increased quality of cut flowers. At an inductive night temp of 13 C, Anigozanthos hybrids are day neutral while at 15.5 or 18 C they are quantitative LD plants.

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Rebeccah A. Waterworth and Robert J. Griesbach

Recently, several new Calibrachoa La Llave & Lexarza (Solanaceae Juss.) cultivars have been developed with novel red and blue flowers. Most wild species of Calibrachoa have purple flowers. The differences in color were not due to anthocyanin composition, but rather to vacuolar pH. The pH of the red-flowered cultivar was 4.8 while that of the blue-flowered cultivar was 5.6. The wild purple-flowered species had an intermediate pH of 5.0. These data suggest that different pH and pigment genes may be introgressed into other Calibrachoa species to increase cultivar diversity.

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John R. Stommel and Robert J. Griesbach