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Bruno Casamali, Rebecca L. Darnell, Alisson P. Kovaleski, James W. Olmstead, and Jeffrey G. Williamson

) found that ‘Sharpblue’ SHB grafted onto Wufanshu ( V. bracteatum ) had greater plant height and yield than nongrafted plants; however, no differences were found for berry weight or fruit quality. Vaccinium arboreum is a wild blueberry relative that is

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Bruno Casamali, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Alisson P. Kovaleski, Steven A. Sargent, and Rebecca L. Darnell

, since fresh-market berries must maintain acceptable fruit quality for 2 or 3 weeks after harvest ( Sargent et al., 2013 ). Vaccinium arboreum is a wild species native to the southeastern United States that exhibits a single-trunk growth habit ( Brooks

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Rebecca L. Darnell, Jeffrey G. Williamson, Deanna C. Bayo, and Philip F. Harmon

decrease, and plants become chlorotic and nonproductive. However, soil amendments required for establishment and maintenance of blueberry plantings are costly ( Julian et al., 2012 ) and may not be sustainable in the long term. Vaccinium arboreum is a wild

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Gerardo H. Nunez, James W. Olmstead, and Rebecca L. Darnell

Vaccinium arboreum (VA) FL09-502 (solid line) and southern highbush blueberry (SHB) ‘Emerald’ (dashed line) for 70 d. Starting on day 14, plants were supplied with fresh, unbuffered nutrient solution (initial pH 5.5) with 10 or 90 µ m iron on a weekly

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Sylvia J. Brooks and Paul M. Lyrene

Morphological characteristics of many derivatives from Vaccinium arboreum Marsh × Vaccinium section Cyanococcus crosses were studied. The purpose of the study was to determine if V. arboreum traits were being inherited and expressed in hybrid progeny and to identify characteristics that would enable hybrid field identification. This study focused on the F1 hybrids of V. darrowi Camp × V. arboreum (F1 hybrids) and the open-pollinated progeny of the F1 hybrids [mother is known (MIK)]. Also included in the study were the parents: V. darrowi, V. arboreum, and V. corymbosum L. (pollen parent of the MIKs). Many leaf, flower, and fruit characteristics were measured for all five taxa. Leaf characteristics included length, width, and presence or absence of stalked glands, pubescence, and marginal bump glands. The floral characteristics measured were corolla length and width, corolla aperture, pedicel length, peduncle length, bracteole length and width, and the presence or absence of anther awns and bracteoles. Berry and seed mass were the fruit characteristics investigated. Four unique V. arboreum traits were found to be expressed in the F1 and MIK hybrid populations. These were the presence of anther awns, large seed size, bracteole shape, and marginal glands. These traits should permit field identification of hybrid plants.

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Paul M. Lyrene

Vaccinium arboreum (sparkleberry; section Batodendron ) is a widespread and abundant diploid blueberry species native in the southeastern United States ( Stockton, 1976 ; Vander Kloet, 1988 ). It flowers in April in north Florida and produces

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Sylvia J. Brooks and Paul M. Lyrene

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.

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Paul M. Lyrene

Cultivated highbush blueberry, which is tetraploid (2n = 4x = 48), was developed by crosses and selection using plants in Vaccinium section Cyanococcus , including V. corymbosum and its close relatives. Vaccinium arboreum (section

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Sylvia J. Brooks and Paul M. Lyrene

Fertility of F1 hybrids and their open-pollinated progeny was studied for the intersectional cross Vaccinium darrowi Camp × V. arboreum Marsh as part of a project to determine the feasibility of using V. arboreum to breed vigorous, drought-tolerant southern highbush blueberry cultivars. The 16 F1 hybrids that were studied were vigorous but very low in fertility. Second generation hybrids [MIKs (mother is known) obtained by open-pollination of the F1s] and MIK derivatives were extremely variable in vigor and fertility, but averaged far higher in fertility than the F1s as evidenced by pollen stainability and amount of pollen produced. F1s produced an average of 0.4 seedlings per 100 pollinated flowers when hand-pollinated in a greenhouse with pollen from V. darrowi, 0.2 when pollinated by V. arboreum and 3.4 when pollinated by cultivated highbush. Some MIKs that were crossed with other MIKs and with cultivated southern highbush were very high in male and female fertility. Female fertility was estimated in greenhouse crosses from fruit set, berry weight, number and weight of seeds, number of plump seeds per berry, and number of seedlings obtained. Male fertility was estimated by pollen stainability with acetocarmine and amount of pollen shed. Chromosome counts showed that three F1s were diploid and that four fertile MIKs were tetraploid. One MIK appeared to be aneuploid. Aneuploidy may explain much of the low fertility found in MIK populations. These results indicate that good progress is being made in returning the hybrid plants to cultivar quality in only a few generations of backcrossing.

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Rebecca L. Darnell and Steven A. Hiss

Most Vaccinium species have narrow soil adaptation and are limited to soils that have low pH, high available iron (Fe), and nitrogen (N) primarily in the ammonium (NH4+) form. Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. is a wild species that can tolerate a wider range of soil conditions, including higher pH and nitrate (NO3-) as the predominant N form. This wider soil adaptation may be related to the ability of V. arboreum to acquire Fe and NO3- more efficiently than cultivated Vaccinium species, such as V. corymbosum L. interspecific hybrid (southern highbush). Nitrate and Fe uptake, and nitrate reductase (NR) and ferric chelate reductase (FCR) activities were compared in these two species grown hydroponically in either 1.0 or 5.0 mm NO3-. Nitrate uptake rate (on a whole-plant and FW basis) and root NR activity were significantly greater in V. arboreum compared with V. corymbosum. Iron uptake on a FW basis was also greater in V. arboreum, and was correlated with higher root FCR activity than was found in V. corymbosum. Increased Fe and NO3- uptake/assimilation in V. arboreum were reflected in increased organ and whole-plant dry weights compared with V. corymbosum. Vaccinium arboreum appears to be more efficient in acquiring and assimilating NO3- and Fe than is the cultivated species, V. corymbosum. This may partially explain the wider soil adaptation of V. arboreum.