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Zhe Cao, Zhanao Deng and Mike Mclaughlin

The genus Caladium Vent. is a member of the family Araceae; some of its species are cultivated as ornamentals. The present study was conducted to determine the genome size, somatic chromosome number, and their variation within 63 accessions representing 10 species of Caladium. Caladium genome sizes estimated using propidium iodide staining and flow cytometry ranged from 2.98 pg/2C in Caladium lindenii Engl. to 9.89 pg/2C in Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey ‘Chang Suek’. Two genome size groups (large and small) were evident among the 63 caladium accessions. The average genome size of 36 caladium accessions in the large genome size group was 9.29 pg/2C, roughly twice that of the 27 accessions in the small genome size group (4.50 pg/2C). Microscopic examination of squashed root tip cells revealed seven somatic chromosome numbers among 39 caladium accessions, including 2n = 18, 20, 24, 26, 30, 34, and 38, and provided the first chromosome counts for four caladium species new to Caladium. The results support the species status of C. marmoratum Mathieu ex K. Koch, C. picturatum K. Koch & C.D. Bouché, and C. steudneriifolium Engl. that were merged into C. bicolor (Aiton) Vent. previously and also support the species status of C. clavatum Hett., Bogner & J. Boos, and C. praetermissum Bogner & Hett., two species recently established in or transferred to Caladium. The results suggest that C. bicolor and C. schomburgkii Schott, not C. picturatum or C. marmoratum, are the chief parents of the fancy-leaved caladium (C. ×hortulanum). Four caladium cytotype groups (CCG-1 to -4) were identified in scatterplot of chromosome number vs. genome size. The genome size of C. bicolor, C. schomburgkii, and C. ×hortulanum in the CCG-4 is approximately twice that of C. humboldtii (Raf.) Schott and C. picturatum in the CCG-2, and the chromosome number of C. clavatum and C. marmoratum in the CCG-3 is close to twice that of C. humboldtii and C. picturatum in the CCG-2, both suggesting possible genome duplication or tetraploidization events in Caladium. However, the chromosome number of the CCG-4 species does not correspond to an expected 2n = 36 or 40, and the genome size of the CCG-3 species does not correspond to an expected 8.98 pg/2C. Conflicts between genome size and chromosome number indicate that genome duplication events were likely followed by chromosome fusions/losses in the formation of CCG-4 species and DNA losses likely followed tetraploidization in the formation of the CCG-3 species. The high level of cytological diversity found within Caladium affects germplasm collection and preservation efforts as well as breeding programs in the genus.

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Weining Wang, Yanhong He, Zhe Cao and Zhanao Deng

Garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), a very important floricultural crop in the United States, has been devastated by impatiens downy mildew (IDM) in recent years. This study was conducted to determine if induced tetraploidy could improve impatiens resistance to downy mildew. Tetraploids were induced by colchicine and confirmed by chromosome counting. Compared with diploids, induced tetraploids showed significant morphological changes, including larger and thicker leaves with larger and fewer stomata; thicker and fewer stems; larger and fewer flowers; and larger pollen grains with higher stainability. In detached leaf and in vivo inoculation assays, tetraploids exhibited improved downy mildew resistance, with lower disease severity, disease incidences, and sporangia densities. Plasmopara obducens, the causal agent of IDM, underwent a similar development process in the leaf tissue of diploids and tetraploids. These results suggest that induced tetraploidy can result in significant changes in impatiens leaf and plant morphology and can increase impatiens resistance to downy mildew to a certain extent.

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Zhe Cao, Shunzhao Sui, Qian Yang and Zhanao Deng

A number of caladium cultivars (Caladium ×hortulanum), including Miss Muffet and Gingerland, produce rugose leaves. The rugosity on these leaves is an intriguing characteristic, often resulting in an increased ornamental value. This study was conducted to understand the mode of inheritance of this trait and to determine its genetic relationship with other foliar characteristics including leaf shape, main vein color, and leaf spotting in caladiums. Sixteen caladium cultivars/breeding lines were crossed and 20 populations were produced; progeny of these populations were phenotyped for rugose leaf as well as leaf shape, main vein color, and leaf spotting. Results showed that a single locus with two alleles controlled the presence or absence of rugose leaves in these populations. The locus was designated as RLF, with the dominant RLF allele for rugose leaves and the recessive allele rlf for nonrugose (flat) leaves. Rugose cultivars Miss Muffet and Gingerland and breeding line UF-317 possessed the heterozygous genotype RLFrlf. Rugose leaf was inherited independently from leaf shape, but linked with the green main vein allele (V g) at the V locus and the leaf spotting allele (S) at the S locus. Three-point analysis of the segregation of the three linked traits in reciprocal crosses between ‘Miss Muffet’ and nonrugose ‘Candidum’ indicated a genetic linkage map with the gene order of S locus locating between the V and the RLF loci. The information obtained from this study will be useful for developing breeding strategies for producing new caladium cultivars with or without rugose leaves, and can facilitate the understanding of the mode of inheritance for rugose leaves in other aroids and other plants.