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Todd J. Rounsaville and Thomas G. Ranney

An extensive survey of genome sizes and ploidy levels was conducted for a diverse collection of Berberis and Mahonia taxa (Berberidaceae). Propidium iodide flow cytometric analysis was conducted using Pisum sativum L. ‘Ctirad’ (2C DNA = 8.76 pg) as an internal standard to determine genome sizes. Mean 1CX genome sizes varied between the two Mahonia subgenera (Occidentales = 1.17 ± 0.02, Orientales = 1.27 ± 0.01), whereas those of Berberis subgenera were similar (Australes = 1.45 ± 0.03, Septentrionales = 1.47 ± 0.02) and each significantly larger than those of Mahonia. Traditional cytology was performed on representative species to calibrate genome sizes with ploidy levels. Polyploidy among both wild and cultivated taxa was found to be rare. Although the majority of species were determined to be diploid with 2n = 2x = 28, artificially induced autopolyploid Berberis thunbergii seedlings were confirmed to be tetraploid and an accession of Mahonia nervosa was confirmed to be hexaploid. Genome size and ploidy level reports for the majority of taxa sampled are presented for the first time and are intended to be of use to plant breeders, ecologists, and systematists.

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Todd J. Rounsaville, Darren H. Touchell and Thomas G. Ranney

Miscanthus sinensis Andersson is a popular ornamental grass and has additional potential as a bioenergy crop. In some regards, the ability of M. sinensis to withstand a broad range of climatic and cultural conditions is desirable, but its propensity to rapidly colonize open and disturbed environments has allowed it to naturalize and become weedy in some regions in the United States. Considering the value of this crop, the development and documentation of infertile clones would be desirable. Triploid plants were evaluated for male and female fertility using pollen viability staining and seed set and germination, respectively. Pollen viability staining, seed set, and seed germination from triploid plants were reduced compared with diploids but varied considerably within each cytotype. Overall, relative female fertility of individual triploids clones [(% seed set × % germination for triploid)/(% seed set × % germination for diploid control)] was reduced substantially and ranged from 49% to 0.7%. Additionally, the reproductive pathways of triploid plants were examined by evaluating the 2C genome sizes of progeny derived from open pollination. The limited progeny arising from open-pollinated triploids were predominantly aneuploids with 2C genome sizes intermediate between diploids and triploids. There was no clear evidence of apomixis, selfing, or triploid × triploid fertilization events observed among triploid parents. Formation of unreduced gametes was rare for both ploidy levels (≈1%). The considerable reduction in female fertility in some triploid clones combined with the limited production of primarily aneuploid progeny provides highly infertile alternatives to existing diploid cultivars.

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Todd J. Rounsaville, Darren H. Touchell, Thomas G. Ranney and Frank A. Blazich

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ is a unique new cultivar exhibiting a compact form and delicate evergreen leaves. Protocols for micropropagation of M. ‘Soft Caress’ were developed to expedite multiplication and serve as a foundation for future work with other taxa of Mahonia Nutt. Combinations of sucrose at 30 or 45 g·L−1 in conjunction with Gamborg B5 (B5), Quoirin and Lepoivre (QL), and Murashige and Skoog (MS) basal media as well as other selected growth regulator treatments were evaluated as multiplication media. Rooting of microcuttings was conducted in vitro using combinations of indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) at 0, 2, 4, 8, or 16 μM under either light or dark. Quick dip treatments with aqueous solutions of the potassium (K) salt (K-salt) of IBA at 0, 5.2, 10.4, 20.7, or 41.4 μM were tested in a second experiment for ex vitro rooting. Media containing B5 basal salts and vitamins supplemented with sucrose at 30 g·L−1, 5 μM 6-benzylaminopurine, 5 μM kinetin, 0.5 μM indole-3-acetic acid, and 2.5 μM gibberellic acid yielded 2.80 ± 0.14 microshoots with a mean length of 14.76 ± 0.63 mm over a 6-week culture period and was an optimal multiplication media. Light treatment and IBA concentration had a significant effect on rooting percentages. Microcuttings treated with 8 μM IBA and maintained in the dark resulted in the best rooting (70%) and ex vitro establishment.