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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Woodbury

Texas A&M Is Home to the Largest Rose Breeding Program in North America

The NCPN Rose Center in College Station, Texas was designated as a Clean Plant Center in 2016 and is located on the campus of Texas A&M University. The campus is home to the largest public rose breeding program in North America, located in the Department of Horticultural Sciences, led by Dr. David Byrne, who holds the Basye Endowed Chair in Rose Genetics and Dr. Oscar Riera-Lizarazu, Associate Professor.

Dr. Byrne has led the national Specialty Crop Research Initiative programs entitled Combating Rose Rosette Disease and Sustainable Roses. The focus of the Sustainable Roses program is to develop disease-resistant(Black Spot, Cercospora, Rose Rosette) and heat-tolerant roses. The research emphasis is the development of genomics-based breeding tools to accelerate breeding progress.

Dr. Byrne previously chaired the National Clean Plant Network for Roses that serves the rose industry and community by ensuring that there is a source of virus tested rose propagative material available to produce the best performing rose plants possible. This Center collaborates on outreach programs for the diagnosis and management of Rose Rosette Virus.

The Center is also home to the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (TPDDL), which provides plant disease diagnostic support to various public and private stakeholders in the green industry. The Applied Research Unit within the Plant Diagnostic Laboratory (TPDDL-ARU) carries out diagnostic work for the NCPN Rose program. The TPDDL-ARU works with various stakeholders to conduct virus testing of their rose germplasm. The virus testing is conducted annually or biennially for the presence of six economically important viruses including Rose Rosette Virus. This virus testing ensures that the stakeholders are starting with the cleanest plant propagation material possible.

Pictured: RRD symptomatic tissue on the left includes excessive red pigmentation and ‘witches broom’. Regular or normal growth is on the right.


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