Friday, February 26, 2016

TAMU Rose Breeding & Genetics Program Update from Dr. Dave Byrne!

Dear Rose Enthusiasts,

We have had a mild winter here in Texas and the current weather is quite nice. The predictions for the next week are for us to have low temperatures in the high to low 50s and high temperatures in the 70s. Nevertheless, Texas weather is predictably unpredictable so we will probably be getting more cold weather before summer rolls around.

In the program we have been preparing fields for planting rose seedlings, pruning, planting roses and peaches, and planning for the next set of rose pollinations. We have recently received plants from Greenheart Nurseries, Weeks Roses, Star Roses, and Chamblee’s Nursery and for more will come from Bailey’s Nursery, Antique Rose Emporium, Francis Roses, Chambersville Heritage Rose Gardens, and Seville Farms. All these will go into the Combating Rose Rosette Disease SCRI evaluations plots in College Station but also with Brent Pemberton in Overton, Texas, Mark Windham at the University of Tennessee and Tom Evans at the University of Delaware.

Last year with our collaborating rose breeders we managed to do about 3,000 pollinations and produce about 5,000 seed which are currently being stratified/germinated. For this we need to thank the participating breeders: Christian Bedard of Weeks Roses, Michele Scheiber of Star Roses and Plants, Ping Lim of Roses by Ping (Altman Plants), Jim Sproul of Roses by Design, David Zlesak, and Don Holeman. This year we expect to do even more pollinations.

Two species that appear to be resistant to RRD are Rosa palustris and Rosa setigera. Both these are native to North America. We have been fortunate to have collaborators collect Rosa palustris in West Virginia (Jim Amrine) and South Carolina (Jonathan Windham) and Rosa setigera from north Texas (Claude Graves and Dean Oswald at the Chambersville Heritage Rose Garden). We are always looking for more germplasm for our work.

Xuan (Jade) Wu & Shuyin (Sharon) Liang presenting their research at the TAMU Horticulture poster competition
Our students have been active in presenting their research. Ellen Roundey, Shuyin (Sharon) Liang, and Xuan (Jade) Wu presented their research at the Texas Plant Protection Conference in and Annual TAMU Horticulture and MEPS poster competition in December and just last week at the Plant Breeding Symposium. In the poster competition one has to explain years of research in 2 to 3 minutes to a panel of judges (professors)…not an easy task! Shuyin and Jade were winners with first and third place respectively at the Annual TAMU Horticulture and MEPS competition. Congratulations.

In January, Muqing (Mandy) Yan traveled to San Diego, CA to attend the international Plant and Animal Genome meetings and gave an invited talk entitled, ‘Map Construction in the Diploid Rose with GBS’. But what is GBS? This means Genotyping by Sequencing which is an efficient way to generate 1000s of DNA markers to help us select for specific gene variants that condition traits such as disease resistance. This technique has been shown to accelerate the new variety development in other crops. We are now working towards using it in rose to develop varieties resistant to the black spot fungus and the rose rosette virus.

At the meetings of the Southern Region American Society of Horticultural Sciences, Jon Corser, an undergraduate student working with Ellen Roundey and Jeekin Lau to count the chromosomes of roses, gave an oral presentation about their work. He did a wonderful job. He continues with this work and soon will be doing pollinations as well.

There are a couple of rose meetings that I would like to mention.

First, Jen Olson, the Plant Pathologist at Oklahoma State University will be giving an Update on Rose Rosette Disease at the Tulsa Community College Northeast Campus on Saturday, March 5th. She is speaking at the Consulting Rosarian School and Winter Rose Workshop event sponsored by the South Central District and Tulsa Rose Society (  Other talks include several by Don Meyers about pesticide use, Eric Rebek about insect problems, Don Adlong about soils, pH and fertilizers, and Carol Shockley about new rose varieties. Registration ends on March 1st.

Second, Mark Windham and Pam Smith will be talking about their experience and how to manage the Rose Rosette Disease in Allen, Texas on the 9th of April. This program is organized by the Collin County Rose Society and the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. See the following link for more information:…/RoseRosetteEducationSeminarApr

In a couple of weeks, I will venture off to the snowy landscape at Michigan State University with four graduate students: Muqing Yan, Ellen Roundey, Zainab Mansur and Jeekin Lau. We will be participating in the Annual Meeting of the RosBREED II project where we will be meeting with fruit and ornamental breeders from throughout the USA to learn how to use DNA markers to accelerate our breeding programs. In roses, Dr. Hokanson and students from the University of Minnesota and our group at TAMU collaborate to find DNA markers to facilitate the development of black spot resistant rose cultivars. I will tell you about how the meeting went in the next Rose 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, please contact me ( We need your support for student scholarships and to maintain the many research gardens needed for an excellent research program. Your support makes our program possible. I try to post regular updates on the Rose Breeding and Genetics Facebook and the Combating Rose Rosette Disease Facebook pages.   Please check them out and like us!

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