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Breeding of polyploid heather (Calluna vulgaris).

Calluna vulgaris is an important landscaping plant in Northern Europe. As C. vulgaris is the only species within the genus Calluna, the available gene-pool for breeding is rather narrow and phenotypic variation is limited. Hence, a breeding program
for polyploids was set up in order to broaden phenotypic variation in this important ornamental crop. Therefor basic genetic characteristics of polyploid C. vulgaris were analyzed using the progeny of a
spontaneously occurring tetraploid genotype. With the help of morphological and molecular marker analysis, it was determined that the autotetraploid plant probably
arose from unreduced gametes resulting from first division restitution. Tetraploids displayed tetrasomic
inheritance with free combination of homologous and homeologous chromosomes. Triploids were semifertile with a high rate of aneuploids in their progeny.
As the so-called bud-blooming flower type is a trait of outstanding interest in breeding of C. vulgaris, a
strategy for efficient breeding of triploid bud-bloomers was deduced.

Przybyla, A.; Behrend, A.; Bornhake, C.; Hohe, A. 2014. Breeding of polyploid heather (Calluna vulgaris). Euphytica 199 (3), 273-282.