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Baldwin D. Miranda and Brent K. Harbaugh

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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

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Fahrettin Goktepe, Teresa Seijo, Zhanao Deng, Brent K. Harbaugh, Natalia A. Peres and Robert J. McGovern

Fusarium tuber rot, incited by Fusarium solani, is the major cause of losses of tuber quality and quantity in caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum) during storage and production. To develop a reliable inoculation method for evaluating cultivar susceptibility to Fusarium tuber rot and identifying sources of resistance, the effect of temperature on the mycelial growth of F. solani in vitro and on tuber rot in vivo was examined. The optimal temperature was then used to study the aggressiveness of F. solani isolates. The effect of temperature (13, 18, 23, 28, and 33 °C) on radial mycelial growth of nine F. solani isolates in vitro was determined, and all responded similarly to temperature variables, with optimal growth predicted to be at 30.5 °C. The relationship of these temperatures to disease development was then determined for the most aggressive F. solani isolate 05-20 and it was found that disease development in inoculated tubers was greatest at low temperatures (13 and 18 °C). Cold damage to tubers was observed at 13 °C; therefore, 18 °C was chosen for all future disease screening. The aggressiveness of nine isolates was tested on two caladium cultivars. Significant differences among isolates were observed for the diameter of rotted tissue in both cultivars, indicating that choice of isolate was important for screening. Isolates 05-20 and 05-257 were highly aggressive on both cultivars. Tubers of 17 commercial caladium cultivars were inoculated with three isolates (04-03, 05-20, and 05-527) and incubated at 18 °C. The interaction between isolates and cultivars was highly significant (P < 0.0001), indicating that cultivars were not equally susceptible to different pathogenic isolates of F. solani. Lesion diameters differed significantly (P < 0.0001) among cultivars/isolates and ranged from 9.5 mm (‘Rosebud’ and ‘White Christmas’ for isolate 04-03) to 23.9 mm (‘Carolyn Whorton’ for isolate 05-20). The cultivars were ranked for susceptibility to tuber rot within each isolate and the normalized total rank for the three isolates was used to place cultivars into four categories: resistant (‘Candidum’, ‘Rosebud’, ‘White Christmas’, ‘Florida Sweetheart’, and ‘Aaron’), moderately resistant (‘White Wing’ and ‘Red Flash’), susceptible (‘Candidum Jr.’, ‘White Queen’, ‘Red Frill’, ‘Florida Cardinal’, ‘Miss Muffet’, and ‘Postman Joyner’), and highly susceptible (‘Fannie Munson’, ‘Gingerland’, ‘Frieda Hemple’, and ‘Carolyn Whorton’). The availability of these sources of host plant resistance, aggressive isolates, and resistance assessment techniques will facilitate the development of new Fusarium-resistant caladium cultivars.

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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

The sporadic nature of inflorescence production and flower protogyny in caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum Birdsey) makes it desirable to store pollen and to rapidly assess its viability for cross-pollinations in breeding programs. This study was conducted to develop a procedure to determine caladium pollen viability and to use that procedure to evaluate the effect of short-term storage conditions on pollen viability. The sucrose level in the culture medium was found to have a significant impact on the in vitro germination of caladium pollen; a concentration of 6.8% was determined to be optimal for pollen germination. Caladium pollen lost viability within 1 day under room (24 °C) or freezing (-20 °C) temperatures, but could be stored at 4 °C for 2 to 4 days. Pollen stored at 4 °C produced successful pollinations. Data obtained from large-scale greenhouse pollinations supported use of this in vitro germination assay as a convenient way to evaluate caladium pollen viability (and fertility).

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Brent K. Harbaugh, B.D. Miranda and G.J. Wilfret

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R.J. Henny, D.J. Norman and J. Chen

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Jianjun Chen, Richard J. Henny, David J. Norman, Pachanoor S. Devanand and Chih-Cheng T. Chao

Dieffenbachia Schott is an important ornamental foliage plant genus. A total of 30 species has been recognized, but most cultivars come from or are related to a single species, D. maculata (Lodd.) G. Don. At least 11 of the cultivars are sports or somaclonal variants. As a result, the potential lack of genetic diversity in cultivated Dieffenbachia has become a concern. However, no research has been conducted to determine the genetic relatedness of the cultivars. This study analyzed the genetic similarity of 42 Dieffenbachia cultivars using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers. Six primer sets, selected from an initial screening of 48, generated a total of 453 scorable AFLP fragments of which 323 (71%) are polymorphic. All cultivars were clearly differentiated by their AFLP fingerprints. A dendrogram was constructed using the unweighted pair-group method of arithmetic averages, and principal coordinated analysis was carried out to show multiple dimensions of the distribution of the cultivars. The 42 cultivars were divided into three clusters; clusters I and II comprise 18 and 23 cultivars, respectively. Jaccard's similarity coefficients for cultivars in the clusters I and II varied from 0.44 to 0.95 and 0.41 to 0.87, respectively. These results indicate that broadening the genetic variability in the Dieffenbachia gene pool is needed, but the genetic similarity of many cultivars is not as close as previously thought. Additionally, Jaccard's similarity coefficients between most sports or somaclonal variants and their parents were 0.73 or lower, suggesting that accumulation of somatic mutations through tissue culture may play a role in the increased variation between some sports or variants and their parents.