New Begonia Lines Now Available to Breeders

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Two new begonia germplasm lines developed by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and their collaborators are now available for use in breeding elite varieties of the ornamental crop that can tolerate the heat and humidity of a Gulf Coast summer.

Begonia semperflorens is the most widely cultivated type of begonia and fourth most popular bedding plant in the United States, generating $36 million in sales (in 2009). However, in Gulf Coast states like Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, the onset of summer can overwhelm these popular flowering perennials with intense heat and humidity, cutting short the plants’ colorful presence in flowerbeds, hanging baskets and containers.

The new germplasm lines, labeled FB08-59 and FB08-163, were officially released as a source of genetic material that plant breeders can transfer better into commercial varieties for improved heat tolerance.

More information is available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2015/150512.htm

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