Announcement of ARS Research Grants
Dr. Harold E. Sweetman
Chairman ARS Research Committee
The Research Committee of the American Rhododendron Society wishes to announce an annual award competition for research on rhododendrons and azaleas. The deadline for receiving submitted applications is March 1, 2006, and awards will be made by August 1, 2006, for those applications deemed to be most deserving of support. ARS research grants are awarded to support projects that either yield practical benefits for growing and enjoying rhododendrons or yield new insights into the biology, geographical distribution or history of species and hybrid rhododendrons.
The Research Committee will consider grant application requests for amounts up to $5,000. The funds may be used over a period of one to three years, at the discretion of the recipient, except that funds may not be used for institutional overhead.
Grant funding is provided by the Research Foundation of the American Rhododendron Society with the understanding that research results will be published in the Journal American Rhododendron Society, a refereed publication. Those applicants unfamiliar with research already reported in the Journal my also benefit from reviewing back issues of the Journal, which is available in many horticultural libraries.
Proposals are evaluated by the ARS Research Committee as regards their potential interest to the membership of the Society and the probability of successfully accomplishing the goals of the project.
Research Grants Awarded in 2005:
1. Rhododendron Database Project - Hybrid Phase. Dr. Forrest E. Bump, Jeffery M. Cheyne and Carol A. McCarthy, Forest Grove, Oregon, USA. $5,000.
The goal of this project is to develop a not-for-profit electronic Internet and computer-searchable Rhododendron Database containing multiple characteristics of rhododendron species and hybrids. The database resource will be accessible to rhododendron experts, hybridizers, nursery professionals, American Rhododendron Society members and the general public. The database will be utilized to identify, contrast, and compare the characteristics of various rhododendrons. Each plant record will have 40-50 different identification features and plant characteristics. The database will provide a comprehensive analytical tool for those studying and developing rhododendrons.
2. Ploidy Manipulation and DNA Quantification for the Genetic Improvement of Rhododendron. Eric Zeldin, Principal Investigator, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Horticulture, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. $5,000.
Significant past improvements have been made to the cultural and ornamental characteristics of rhododendrons; however, continuing technological advancements provide researchers with an increasing ability to utilize the incredible diversity within the genus to achieve further progress. This research project will utilize flow cytometry (a method for quantifying DNA content in individual cells), ploidy manipulation (changing chromosome number from diploid to tetraploid and even to triploid) and interspecific hybrids (hybridizing between different rhododendron species). The overall strategy is to develop Rhododendron varieties that are improved in bloom quality, fragrance and climatic adaptability. A rare Japanese native, R. uwaense, will be used as a breeding parent because it possess highly fragrant flowers and substantial heat tolerance. Flow cytometry will also help identify the phylogenetic relationship of R. uwaense with other subgenera. Hybrid seedlings from R. uwaense and crosses of tetraploid R. catawbiense with diploid Ponticum spp. will hopefully result in triploid progeny. Triploid plants in previously studied genera including Vaccinium, Betula and Viburnum have resulted in new desirable traits. Hybrid seedlings from this research project will also be tested for zone 3 winter hardiness.