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Timothy Laverty and N. Vorsa

Vaccinium ashei (6x) /V. corymbosum (4x) pentaploid hybrids backcrossed to V. ashei yield aneuploid progeny ranging in chromosome number from 5x to 6x levels. Six backcross aneuploids having chromosome numbers of 2n = 61, 62, 64, 66, 68, and 70 were selected from this backcross and crossed in a complete diallel mating design and backcrossed (as female parents) to two V. ashei cultivars and an interspecific hexaploid hybrid. Fertility variables measured were percent fruit set, total seed per berry, developed seed per berry, percent developed seed per berry, percent seed germination, developed seed per pollination, and seedlings per pollination. A significant linear and positive relationship was found between chromosome number and all seven fertility variables. However, regression accounted for 30% or less of the variation among crosses. Diallel analysis revealed that general combining ability was the major contributing effect for all seven variables, followed by reciprocal effects. Specific combining ability was not significant. The second backcross to the hexaploid level suggested significant effects due to both the BC1 aneuploid and hexaploid genotypes and to a significant genotype × genotype interaction for three of the variables. All six aneuploids were either fully or partially self-sterile. The findings of this study substantiate earlier suggestions that pentaploids in blueberry can be used to facilitate bilateral transfer of characteristics between the tetraploid and hexaploid levels in blueberry.