Breeding and Genetics for Shelf and Vase Life

  • Heiko Mibus
Part of the Handbook of Plant Breeding book series (HBPB, volume 11)


A large share of cut flowers is produced in Central America or East Africa and marketed in Europe, the USA, and Asia. Due to the increasing conglomeration of production, potted plants also are being shipped over ever-longer distances. It follows that the ability to withstand storage, shipping, and merchandising is an important characteristic of cultivated ornamental plants. To improve longevity, various postharvest processes are used, which, however, can fail and be very costly. For this reason, the breeding of new ornamental cultivars with extended longevity is the most sustainable strategy.

A high degree of heritability could be demonstrated in most crossbreeding analyses. This clears the way for a gradual improvement in the longevity trait through efficient selection. A detailed characterization of the longevity trait and the determination of relevant genes was made chiefly with molecular genetic analysis of carnations and petunias. These findings could only be utilized up to a point in breeding programs to characterize inheritance of the longevity trait. Discoveries about the molecular mechanisms of senescence and abscission, especially of the ethylene effect, however, were successfully used with transgenic methods to improve longevity in ornamentals. Due to the limited acceptance by consumers of genetically modified plants, traditional breeding and selection for the longevity trait will continue to be the decisive tool for developing new, long-lasting ornamental plant cultivars. Selection can be improved with marker-assisted selection (MAS), which was already established for selection of the longevity trait in a few ornamentals (e.g., roses, chrysanthemums). By deploying new sequencing techniques (NGS), it was possible to generate many molecular markers for use in the breeding and selection process.


Cut flowers Ethylene Longevity Ornamentals Postharvest Potted plants Senescence 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Urban Horticulture and Ornamental Plant ResearchHochschule Geisenheim UniversityGeisenheimGermany

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