Pollen germination differed significantly between and within 3 interspecific hybrid populations and their parents. Pollen germination of populations of ‘Sharpblue’ (Vaccinium X sp.) × V. myrsinites Lamark (38%) and ‘Sharpblue’ × V. darrowi Camp (33%) was lower than mid-parent means of 45% and 37%, respectively. ‘Avonblue’ × V. myrsinites averaged higher in pollen germination than the mid-parent, 42% vs. 32%. Pollen germination of ‘Sharpblue’ × V. myrsinites hybrids varied most in pollen germination, ‘Avonblue’ × V. myrsinites hybrids least, and ‘Sharpblue’ × V. darrowi hybrids intermediate.
Progenies and clones of interspecific hybrid blueberries were evaluated for annual fraction of canopy volume (FCYV) and for difference in fraction of canopy volume between control and stressed plants [FCYV(C) - FCYV(S)] in a moderate water-deficit environment. The FCYV(C) - FCYV(S) data were used to determine combining ability effects. In addition, physiological processes of attached leaves of the clones were monitored with a portable photosynthesis apparatus. Specific combining ability (SCA) effects were significant for FCYV(C) - FCYV(S). The clone with the lowest mean for FCYV(C) - FCYV(S) was US75, a hybrid of Vaccinium darrowi Camp × V. corymbosum L. Clone JU64 (V. myrsinites Lamark × V. angustifolium Aiton) also had a low FCYV(C) - FCYV(S) mean, and its two progenies (JU64 × JU11 and G362 × JU64) had low progeny means. Stomatal conductance was lowered when blueberries were exposed to atmospheric and/or soil moisture stress that resulted in lower transpiration and photosynthesis and increased or equal water-use efficiencies (WUE). Blueberry plants adjusted to moisture stress as the season progressed by lowering stomatal conductance and increasing WUE. In particular, stressed plants of US75 and JU64 had equal or higher WUE values than control plants. US226 was the most drought-susceptible clone in the study, and its stomata did not appear to be as responsive to moisture stress as the other clones. Breeding for higher WUE in a dry environment appears possible with the germplasm used in this study.
Data from a four-parent diallel, involving one highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) clone and three interspecific hybrids grown on mineral soil unamended with organic matter, were analyzed to determine combining ability effects for six traits: plant size, berry size, the number of days between flowering and fruiting (# DBF&F), the ratio of total fruit weight to canopy volume (TFW: CYV), days to fruit ripe, and yield. General combining ability effects were significant for all characters tested, except yield and berry size in 1984. Specific combining ability effects were significant for plant size in 1983, #DBF&F in 1984, TFW: CYV in 1984, and berry size in 1985. Vigorous and productive highbush cultivars can be developed for mineral soils by using the interspecific clones from this study and their selected recombinant to combine the genes for plant vigor with the high-quality fruit traits of highbush cultivars.
Eighty-seven highbush blueberry and species-introgressed blueberry cultivars were evaluated for fruit firmness in the 1998-2000 growing seasons with a FirmTech 1 automated firmness tester. Significant differences were observed among cultivars. An average firmness of 136.1 g·mm-1 of deflection (g·mm-1 dfl) was observed across all studied cultivars, and a range of 80.4 g·mm-1 dfl (`Herbert') to 189.0 g·mm-1 dfl (`Pearl River'). Species ancestry was not consistently related to firmness; however, cultivars with higher firmness values often possessed a higher percentage of Vaccinium darrowi Camp and V. ashei Reade ancestry. Conversely, cultivars with softer than average fruit often possessed a higher percentage of lowbush (V. angustifolium Ait.) ancestry. This information may help to identify sources of breeding material for increased firmness in highbush blueberry hybrids.
Date of 50% anthesis, date of 50% fruit ripening, length of fruit development period, fruit size, flavor, scar and color were determined for random samples of V. darrowi Camp, V. elliottii (Chapm.) Small, V. fuscatum Ait., and V. myrsinites Lam. growing in their native habitats in Alachua County, Florida. Mean berry weight ranged from 25.1 eg for V. fuscatum to 17.8 eg for V. myrsinites. V. elliottii flowered and ripened early, with only 60 days from flowering to ripening for 5 plants. V. myrsinites and V. darrowi flowered late, about 1 to 2 weeks after commercial V. ashei Reade, but ripened with V. ashei. Fruit ranged from shiny black to moderately glaucous for V. elliottii and V. darrowi but was black for V. fuscatum and V. myrsinites. Variance analysis suggested that selecting the best clone within a species is almost as important as selecting the best species in breeding most traits.
Vaccinium darrowi (D) is a wild blueberry species with low chilling requirements for budbreak, and heat and drought tolerance. Breeding efforts to incorporate these desirable traits into cultivated blueberry (V. corymbosum) (C) would be facilitated with a better understanding of the genomic homology between the two species. An interspecific tetraploid hybrid (CCDD, 2n=4x=48) was used to evaluate genome homology and interspecific recombination. Pollen mother cells examined at diakinesis and early metaphase I exhibited an average of 4.6 chain bivalents, 11.4 ring bivalents, 1.0 chain quadrivalent, and 3.0 ring quadrivalents. This data most closely fits a chromosome pairing model in which there is a greater pairing affinity between homologues than homoeologues. An analysis of the inheritance of 14 RAPD markers unique to V. darrowi in 72 backcross progeny of the V. darrowi–corymbosum hybrid also supported the pairing model: Seven of the 14 markers deviated significantly from tetrasomic inheritance ratios, expected if chromosome pairing was totally random. On the basis of the cytogenetic and RAPD analyses, the genomes of V. darrowi and V. corymbosum are divergent from one another, with preferential pairing within genomes. This outcome suggests there may be difficulty in breaking undesirable linkages when introgressing desirable traits from V. darrowi to V. corymbosum.
Experiments were conducted with V. darrowi and two cultivars of southern highbush blueberry, `Sharpblue' and `Misty,' to test whether V. darrowi and cultivars derived from it are photoperiodic with respect to flower bud initiation. Plants of each cultivar were grown under three different photoperiod treatments [long days (LD) = 16-hour photoperiod; short days (SD) = 8-hour photoperiod; and short days + night interrupt (SD-NI) = 8-hour photoperiod with 1-hour night interrupt] at constant 21 °C for 8 weeks. Vegetative growth was greatest in the LD plants of both cultivars. Flower bud initiation occurred only in the SD treatments, and the lack of flower bud initiation in the SD-NI treatment indicates that flower bud initiation is a phytochrome mediated response in Vaccinium. Previously initiated flower buds on the V. darrowi plants developed and bloomed during the LD treatment, but bloom did not occur in the SD and SD-NI treatment plants until after those plants were moved to LD. These data indicate that flower bud initiation in both V. darrowi and southern highbush blueberry is photoperiodically sensitive, and is promoted by short days, while flower bud development is enhanced under long days.
The extent of self-fertility and self-fruitfulness was studied in Vaccinium arboreum Marsh, V. darrowi Camp, and in seedlings, termed MIKs, from open-pollination of V. darrowi (section Cyanococcus) × V. arboreum (section Batodendron) F1 hybrids. The open pollinations that produced the MIKs occurred in a field containing tetraploid southern highbush selections (based largely on V. corymbosum L.), and the pollen parents of the MIKs are believed to be southern highbush selections. The MIKs that were studied had been selected for high fruit set after open pollination in the field. Both V. arboreum and V. darrowi exhibited very low self-fruitfulness and self-fertility when hand-pollinated in a greenhouse; the former produced no seedlings from more than 600 selfed flowers, and the latter produced only 13. By contrast, southern highbush clones averaged 70 seedlings per 100 pollinated flowers when selfed and 230 when crossed. Self-fertility and self-fruitfulness of the MIKs were higher than those of V. arboreum and V. darrowi but lower than those of southern highbush selections. MIK × MIK crosses gave fewer seedlings per 100 pollinated flowers (84) than highbush × highbush crosses (230), probably reflecting their hybrid ancestry. Although introduction of V. arboreum genes into southern highbush blueberry gives plants of excellent vigor and adaptation to north Florida, several generations of breeding will be needed to obtain cultivars with high fertility and berry quality.
Ten colonies of Vaccinium darrowi Camp were sampled at each of 9 sites in the Florida panhandle and 6 sites in and around the Ocala National Forest in the central Florida peninsula. The colonies averaged 53 cm tall in the panhandle, with leaves 9.8 mm long and 4.1 mm wide. By contrast, colonies in the peninsula averaged 136 cm tall—well outside the range described for the species—with leaves 12.7 mm long and 5.7 mm wide. The species was diploid and entirely evergreen in both regions. In the central Florida peninsula, natural hybrids between V. darrowi and a 3-m tall, deciduous, diploid race of highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L.) are common where streams and lakes border the dry scrub habitat of V. darrowi. The robust form of V. darrowi in the Florida peninsula may have evolved from the petite form in the panhandle as a result of introgression from the highbush coupled with selection for characteristics that enhance survival on the deep, xeric sands of the peninsula. V. darrowi from the central peninsula has characteristics that make it valuable in breeding blueberry cultivars.
The comparative self-compatibility, intra-, and interspecific crossability of representative clones of V. atrococcum (Gray) Heller, V. caesariense Mackenzie, V. darrowi Camp, and V. tenellum Aiton was determined. The number of germinated seeds and number of vigorous seedlings proved to be the best criteria for evaluation of crossability. The 4 species were largely self-incompatible. Generally, intraspecific and interspecific crossability levels were singificantly higher than those of the self-pollinations. Interspecific crossability was significantly lower than intraspecific crossability. Crossability levels within species and the range in crossability in individual combinations among species were extremely variable. Although F1 hybrids were produced in each of the 6 species hybridizations attempted, the rate of success was highly variable, and the direction in which the cross was made was usually critical. Specific combining ability was considerably more important than general combining ability in achieving species hybridizations. The hypothesis of complete homoploid interfertility in Vaccinium was not valid for these 4 species. The ranking of species crossability (number of vigorous seedlings per 100 pollinations) from highest to lowest was: V. atrococcum – V. caesariense, V. atrococcum – V. darrowi, V. darrowi – V. tenellum, V. caesariense – V. tenellum, V. caesariense – V. darrowi, and V. atrococcum – V. tenellum.