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Highly fertile intersectional blueberry hybrids of Vaccinium padifolium Section Hemimyrtillus and V. corymbosum Section Cyanococcus

Mark K. Ehlenfeldt, James J. Polashock
Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 2014 v.139 no.1 pp. 30-38
DNA, Vaccinium corymbosum, Vaccinium padifolium, blueberries, cultivars, females, flow cytometry, flowering, fruiting, gene pool, hybrids, mechanical harvesting, ploidy, selfing, testing
The primary gene pool of Vaccinium species used by blueberry breeders has traditionally been the North American Vaccinium species of Section Cyanococcus. Blueberries in commercial production represent three primary Vaccinium species and two ploidy levels. Significant use has been made of the secondary gene pool of Vaccinium, especially in the development of southern highbush cultivars. Section Hemimyrtillus species are distantly related and are best considered part of the tertiary gene pool of Vaccinium. V. padifolium Smith, native to the Portuguese islands of Madeira, has features of notable value to conventional blueberry development, among these: upright structure, strong growth, abundant flowering and fruiting, good self-fertility, inflorescence structure suited to mechanical harvesting, and indeterminate/repeat flowering. We used V. padifolium as a female in crosses with V. corymbosum, and generated two highly fertile hybrids. These hybrids were intermediate in morphology, and their hybridity was additionally confirmed through DNA testing. These hybrids were used in further crosses to a variety of section Cyanococcus selections and have generated numerous secondary hybrids. We have also determined by flow cytometry, the ploidies of the hybrids and several previously unevaluated section Hemimyrtillus species.