Molecular Breeding

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 233–239 | Cite as

Facilitating wide hybridization in Hydrangea s. l. cultivars: A phylogenetic and marker-assisted breeding approach

  • Carolina Granados Mendoza
  • Stefan Wanke
  • Paul Goetghebeur
  • Marie-Stéphanie Samain
Short communication


Hydrangea s. l., belonging to the up-market segment of ornamental cultivars, currently faces a renaissance in horticulture. Hence, novel molecular-assisted breeding approaches are timely. Wide hybridization, i.e. crosses between distantly related species, has been shown to be problematic. Recent studies have considerably improved our knowledge of the phylogenetic relationships between the ornamental Hydrangea s. l. species. A fully resolved and highly supported phylogenetic tree is currently available, based on an extensive marker selection including 13 highly variable chloroplast markers. This robust phylogenetic framework includes the majority of widely cultivated Hydrangea s. l. species that have been the center of attention in a number of crossing projects. The present study is based on this highly supported phylogenetic hypothesis. Here, we aim to select the best candidates for future successful breeding projects, involving interspecific crosses of both closely and distantly related Hydrangea s. l. lineages. Therefore, we integrated the phylogenetic relatedness of potential parental lines along with genetic distances calculated from a wide plastid marker selection. Direct crosses between two species were found to be successful up to an average genetic distance of 0.01065, while failure could be expected at an average genetic distance of 0.01385 and higher. In order to overcome this genetic distance threshold, we propose Hydrangea arborescens, H. sargentiana, H. integrifolia, and H. seemannii as the best candidates for future bridge-cross projects with currently available fertile hybrids. We expect that our results will allow breeders to overcome long-standing wide crossing difficulties and motivate breeding initiatives of potential economic value.


Hydrangeaceae Hortensia Chloroplast markers Interspecific hybridization Bridge-cross breeding Genetic distances 



Financial support for this study comes from the Special Research Fund of Ghent University (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds project 01J03309) and the “Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) KMU-innovativ 9: Biotechnologie – BioChance”. Seed grants provided to CGM & SW by the Biology Department of the TU Dresden are gratefully acknowledged. Additional financial support to CGM was granted by the Consejo Mexiquense de Ciencia y Tecnología (Mexico). We sincerely thank Christoph Neinhuis for providing the research environment at the TU Dresden and supporting our collaborative Hydrangea s. l. research initiative. We are very grateful for the provision of some Hydrangea accessions by Koen Camelbeke (Arboretum Wespelaar, Haacht, Belgium) and Georges Piens (Hydrangeum vzw, satellite garden of Ghent University Botanic Garden, Belgium). Thanks also to Chantal Dugardin and Rosette Heynderickx who helped with obtaining material and with administrative tasks for this project. Finally, the helpful comments on different aspects of a previous version of the manuscript by Marc Libert, Yannick De Smet and Paola Granados Mendoza are gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

11032_2012_9822_MOESM1_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 18 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolina Granados Mendoza
    • 1
  • Stefan Wanke
    • 2
  • Paul Goetghebeur
    • 1
  • Marie-Stéphanie Samain
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Group Spermatophytes, Department of BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.Institut für BotanikTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany

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