Biodiv Sci ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (6): 627-637.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2017090

• Original Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Molecular and morphological evidence for natural hybridization between Rhododendron decorum and R. delavayi (Ericaceae)

Shuoli Zheng1,2, Xiaoling Tian3, Chengling Huang3, Lingjun Wang4, Yuan Feng4, Jingli Zhang1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Landscape and Gardening, Yunnan Agriculture University, Kunming 650201
    2 Hunan Forest Botanical Garden, Changsha 410116
    3 College of Humanities & Science, Guizhou Minzu University, Guiyang 550025
    4 Institute of Guizhou Baili Rhododendron, Bijie, Guizhou 551518
  • Received:2017-03-22 Accepted:2017-06-28 Online:2017-06-20 Published:2017-07-10
  • Contact: Zhang Jingli


The southwestern region of China is the center of differentiation for the genus Rhododendron. Studies on the natural hybridization of Rhododendron provide solutions for taxonomic problems and enhance the ability to breed new cultivars faster. In this paper, we compared the morphological features and sequenced nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and chloroplast trnL-trnF, rbcL, trnH-psbA for Rhododendron decorum, R. delavayi, and the putative hybrid offspring of these two species. All samples in this study were collected from Baili Rhododendron Nature Reserve in Guizhou Province, the Shibao Mountain of Yunnan Province and Kunming Botanical Garden. Results showed that all putative hybrids (natural and artificial) produced an intermediate morphology. Sequencing results revealed that all artificial hybrids and one collected from the Shibao Mountain inherited cpDNA from R. decorum, and all putative hybrids collected from Baili Rhododendron Nature Reserve and six from Shibao Mountain inherited cpDNA from R. delavayi. In this study, we have confirmed that natural hybridization between R. decorum and R. delavayi exists in the Guizhou and Yunnan sites. Hybridization was bilateral, and most of the hybrids were derived from maternal parent R. delavayi.

Key words: Rhododendron, natural hybridization, morphological traits, DNA sequences