Sunday, September 21, 2014

TAMU Rose update from Dr. Dave Byrne:

Dear Rose Enthusiasts,

Greetings from the Texas A&M University Rose Breeding and Genetics Program. The summer whizzed by and somehow fall is quickly approaching. Here at Texas A&M University the students have returned and the weather is cooling off. The summer has been very busy and although we have fallen a bit behind in weeding our rose research plots we still got a tremendous amount done. In the last update I mentioned the two graduating students that did their research on roses: Xiaoya (Amy) Cai (drought and salt tolerance) and Jake Ueckert (ploidy transmission in rose). I will finish summarizing Amy’s work now and next time I will talk about Jake’s contribution to rose breeding and genetics.

Amy, who worked with Dr.Terri Starman and Dr.Genhua Niu, focused on addressing one of the most critical issues we are facing in agriculture: the shortage of good quality water. Thus her work explored the response of rose varieties to drought stress and salt stress (poor water quality). In the last note we saw that there were differences in rose varieties in their ability grow under drought stress. She also compared the salt tolerance of various Earth-Kind®roses. In her comparisons of rose growth and productivity under salt stressed conditions, the rose varieties ‘Belinda’s Dream’, ‘Climbing Pinkie’, ‘Mrs. Dudley Cross’, ‘Reve d’Or’, and ‘Sea Foam’ were the most salt tolerant, followed by ‘Duchesse de Brabant’, ‘Mutabilis’, ‘Monsieur Tillier’, ‘Georgetown Tea’, ‘Marie Daly’, ‘La Marne’, and ‘Ducher’. ‘Cecile Brunner’, ‘Else Poulsen’, ‘Madame Antoine Mari, ‘Perle d’Or, ‘Spice’, and ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’s’ were the least salt tolerant among the cultivars investigated.  So are we ready to develop roses that are drought and salt tolerant? Unfortunately, although we see difference among varieties, we have a long way to go before we understand why they are different and can construct a better drought and salt tolerant rose.

This past summer we have made steady progress in the molecular work we are doing to improve the efficiency in combining good disease resistance with excellent horticultural traits. Our student Muqing (Mandy) Yan, working with Dr.Patricia Klein, has been developing a procedure to mark or tag thousands of positions on the chromosomes which will ultimately be useful in tagging various important traits in a rose. This approach uses our ability to sequence the DNA of a plant and then by comparing the DNA of various plants locate places where they are different. These differences are the tags. The work was generously funded by a Research Grant from the AmericanRose Society. Another important collaboration was with the RoseHybridizer Association represented by Don Holeman who designed and ran a survey about rose preferences in which many of you participated. It gave us some excellent information as it was the first extensive survey that showed that the most desired trait in a new rose variety was disease resistance. This initial molecular work and the survey results, in turn, helped support a SpecialtyCrop Research Initiative grant proposal entitled ‘Combatting Rose Rosette: Short Range and Long Range Approaches’ that we developed with 15 researchers, the rose industry, and various rose evaluation programs and organizations. I was recently informed that the grant was recommended for funding! I will talk more about that in the next update.

If you have any questions about our work here at Texas A&M University or how to support the Basye or Moore Rose Collection and Legacy, the Rose Breeding and Genetics program, and our students, feel free to contact me ( I try to post regular updates on the RoseBreeding and Genetics Facebook page.   Please check it out and like us!

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