Inheritance of Fruit Color and Leaf Variegation in Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana, or American beautyberry as it is commonly known, is a native shrub with a distribution from Virginia west to Missouri and south to Texas.  It is grown primarily for its berry-like drupes formed in axillary clusters that ripen in fall.  The species type possesses metallic purple fruit but white forms have been found; C. americana ‘Lactea’ being the named cultivar in the trade.  Variegated forms have also been found including C. americana ‘Berries and Cream’ which is the most commonly grown variegated cultivar.

American beautyberry has been underutilized in the nursery and landscape trades, mainly due to the lack of superior forms.  Efforts are underway at The University of Georgia Tifton Campus to develop superior forms with improved ornamental potential.  Currently, work is being done to determine the mode of inheritance of fruit color and leaf variegation.  Understanding how these traits are inherited will allow them to be combined in the most desirable forms.  Hypotheses for the two traits were that white fruit color was a single recessive nuclear gene and that leaf variegation was a maternally inherited trait.  The crosses described below were conducted to tests these hypotheses.

 In 2007, reciprocal crosses were made between C. americana and C. americana ‘Lactea’ and between C. americana and C. americana ‘Berries and Cream’.  F1 progeny from those crosses are currently being evaluated.  Additionally, those progeny are being used to generate BC1F1 and F2 families.  Segregation ratios of these families should reveal the mode of inheritance.  If our hypothesis is correct for fruit color, for example, half of the BC1F1 family should have white fruit and half should have purple fruit.  The F2 for fruit color should be 3:1 purple: white fruit.

Project Leader: John Ruter
Contact Info:
Affiliation: University of Georgia
(229) 386-3907

Project Leader:
Ryan N. Contreras
Contact Info:
Affiliation: University of Georgia
(706) 542-2471