Blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L.) is a northern-adapted crop species with extremely early phenology and cold hardiness. Restricted adaptation to temperate climates is a current limitation to the crop’s mainstream potential for large-scale production. Based on the broad germplasm base at the University of Saskatchewan, vegetative growth cessation and leaf drop phenology were characterized to complement analysis of spring phenological adaptation in a temperate climate. A multi-trial site of three foundation groups and a single-site trial of three improved groups compared with their parental foundation genotypes were conducted in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada in 2012 and 2013. The current study shows that blue honeysuckle germplasm contains considerable phenological variation that will permit adaptation to temperate climates. It also demonstrates that breeding for improved adaptation is possible using the existing germplasm resources. For Russian germplasm with the earliest phenology, adaptation to northern latitudes and short growing seasons results in early floral initiation, which presents an indirect limitation to production in more southern latitudes due to secondary flowering. Early leaf drop indirectly limits production and is related to poor adaptation to high chill environments. Skew toward later leaf drop in improved groups, produced from hybridization with Japanese and Kuril germplasm with intermediate and late phenologies, respectively, shows that development of better adaptation to southern latitudes can be achieved.
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The authors thank Maxine Thompson (Oregon State University), Maria Plekhanova (Vavilov Institute) and Jim Gilbert (One Green World Nursery) for providing the foundation blue honeysuckle germplasm used in this study.
EMG was a grateful recipient of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Robert P. Knowles Plant Breeding Scholarship.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Part of a Ph.D. thesis (EMG) submitted to the University of Saskatchewan.
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Gerbrandt, E.M., Bors, R.H., Chibbar, R.N. et al. Blue honeysuckle (Lonicera caerulea L.) vegetative growth cessation and leaf drop phenological adaptation to a temperate climate. Genet Resour Crop Evol 65, 1471–1484 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10722-018-0631-8
- Chilling requirement
- Floral initiation
- Genetic resources
- Lonicera caerulea