Ideas for roses questions to answer through DNA fingerprinting

Hi everyone!

I have a student that wants to work on a special project for spring here and we have limited DNA analysis equipment at the University where I am at. I would love to get things going with the equipment we have and give it a try. There is a special type of agarose that supposed to give pretty good resolution for DNA bands of similar size (someone said down to about 8 base pairs), so that can really help us answer some better questions with the equipment we do have. I have some DNA samples extrated over the years from ideas brainstormed together with others with the anticipation of someday trying to answer some questions (i.e. Is ‘Jefferson’ the found rose Mr. Moore’s 'Softee", how many clones are out there sold under ‘Harison’s Yellow’, etc.). For my Ph.D. as part of a side project, for instance, I looked at ‘Daydream’. It was reported as a cross of ‘Lavender Dream’ x ‘Henry Kelsey’, but looked very very similar to just ‘Lavender Dream’ and learned through marker analsysis that ‘Henry Kelsey’ was not the dad (this of course does not mean anyone purposefully was misleading with their pedigrees, things just happen sometime during the process and we don’t always have what we expect).

If there are straightforward questions you can think of that involves if different roses sold as something are really the same genotype, one is likely a sport of another, or to test if a particular rose is a likely a parent of another, we might be able to get things set up to answer some of those questions this spring. The student and I really welcome your ideas.



I know it’s not likely your first goal, but to my mind it would be extremely useful for testing/confirming hybridity.

I have some seedlings I’ve held onto for years, not absolutely sure of parentage.

I’m thrilled to hear this technology is finally coming available for roses.

It might help to answer some age old questions regarding lineage of certain cultivars.

Confirming the true parentage of things like ‘Floradora’ comes immediately to mind.

David, maybe this first point is off-target for this site, but what agarose are you talking about? The limits of resolution are based on the diffusion coefficient of the DNA fragments, so you may get 8 bp in smaller pieces, but not likely with larger ones. Obviously with polyacrylamide you can get single base resolution- that’s how DNA sequencing got done. Contact me at ldavis at and I may be able to help out on the equipment question. A lot of stuff gets surplussed. Also we’ve published papers on making your own DNA gel systems from hardware store stuff. I have the refs at work, not here at home.

On target I hope. Consider some fundamentals such as Austrian Copper vs Persian yellow. Is it really just a mutation to doubleness and color? Or, for the R palustris variants (scandens, plena) discussed here recently,are they minor mutations, or a case of hybridity? If you are lucky you might get at some questions like, why is it that my Carefree Copper shows no signs of its Carefree Beauty parent, except perhaps doubleness and some better disease resistance? Did it shed a lot of CB chromosomes? Or does it just block their expression. Same question pertains to Robert’s suspect hybrids.

There’s probably enough work for half a dozen M.S. students or good undergrads here.

‘Compare and contrast the work of Mathias Tantau. Don’t use words shorter than eight base pairs’ :slight_smile:

While checking for roxburghii in Floradora you could also check Kathe Duvigneau and Cinnabar.

Does Sterling Silver actually have any Peace in it and, for good measure, any Lavender Pinocchio?

A less obvious question is where did Fortune’s Double Yellow get those pretty yellow genes? This question arises because it produces the epoxide forms of the carotenoids which no other OGR can do - moderns get that ability from the foetidas. So, does FDY have any foetida, xanthina, hugonis or ecae in it?

I too would like to know whether Tantau’s seedlings from R. roxburghii pollen actually have any roxburghii DNA. It is an important question because Tantau’s hybrids have been used extensively to breed modern roses. It would also be interesting to know whether other putative R. roxburghii offspring (Coryana, Micrugosa) have roxburghii DNA. I’d be happy to supply samples from Coryana and R. roxburghii normalis, if you want them.

Sorting out the different Harison’s Yellows would be interesting. I have a yellow rose that has been in my family since at least the 1920s that I assumed was Harison’s Yellow. It has survived decades of neglect in northern zone 5. It doesn’t set hips and its pollen very rarely produces seedlings. It is planted next to R. foetida bicolor and appears to be closely related to it. I’d be happy to supply samples from it, if you want them.

Here is a pic of my “Harison’s Yellow”:

Maybe something like looking for any DNA changes in a rose that has color sported, or sported to stripes?

David, Could you please check Percy Wright’s ‘Hazeldean’. Percy was uncertain if the pollen parent was ‘Harison’s Yellow’ or ‘Persian Yellow’ as Professor Patterson from the University of Saskatoon mailed him the pollen.

One I’d be very interested in is sorting out Burbank’s Santa Rosa and Burbank. Determining which is actually what from the various sources; whether Pink Cracker is one of them and if they are all just selfs of Old Blush. For that matter, is Mr. Bluebird an Old Blush self or does it contain something from Violette? Renae, does it actually contain genes from Sierra Snowstorm or is it an Etoile Luisante self? From testing Renae, might it be possible to determine if Etoile Luisante is a Hybrid Foetida? Do the old single HTs from Dickson actually contain Hibernica? Does LeGrice’s Lilac Charm really have any Californica in it and what the heck IS what they have in Britain and call Californica? Would it be possible to tell anything about Grandmother’s Hat by testing it?

Or another thing. There is a rose that Whit Wells registered as Memphis Music and claimed he got by breeding a seedling of his own with Black Magic. I think his “Memphis Music” is actually the same rose as Kordes’ Abracadabra. I have been growing them side-by-side for years thinking they are the same rose. I have them both and could supply samples of each. Wanna check it out?

There has been much speculation on the origins of the found rose “Darlow’s Enigma”-this is such a hardy, fragrant, no care rose, would love to know what is in it.

Same with “Mr. Nash” which is reputed to be Doubloons but is very hardy ( both have been discussed at much length on Garden Web in the past.)

Yes, would love to get all those “Eastern” yellows sorted out too.

Off topic but which of the “Eastern” yellows is definitely non fading so it could be crossed with modern yellows? I have seen Ghislaine de Feligonde, Julia Child and many others fade to a definite white! Don’t get me wrong, I love my white roses but would prefer my yellows to stay yellow to the extent of only slightly yellowing as they age.

David, thanks so much as always. I often thought it would be a good “senior citizen” project to help with the scut work under the guidance of an expert.

In the early days of using colchine to convert hemerocallis diploids to tetraploids, Virginia (Peck I believe) who taught at the college level but not in the sciences I don’t think), as a labor of level spent most of one summer doing the conversions under the guidance of a USDA professional.


I like all of the suggestions so far. I would be interested to know, if possible, how close a relationship there is between the “Green Rose reversion” sport and ‘Old Blush’. The pink flowered reversion from chinensis viridiflora appears very close to ‘Old Blush’ at times, and several of us have speculated that this is in fact where viridiflora came from.

Also, along similar lines as one of Kim’s suggestions: how much, if any, DNA from ‘Tuscany Superb’ is in LeGrice’s ‘News’?

And yes, I am also very curious to know if there is any roxburghii in ‘Floradora’. No roxburghii characteristics surfaced in Moore’s 0-47-19, nor any subsequent generations. As an experiment this year, I crossed ‘Floradora’ back onto 0-47-19 to see what traits might surface. Curiously, 0-47-19 is highly receptive to most any pollen, and yet less than 30% of the pollinations with ‘Floradora’ resulted in hips.


Another lineage question popping up every other time: Is Pearl Drift really Mermaid x New Dawn? (Or: is there bracteata in its parentage?). All three roses should be available.


It would be interesting I think to go to some of the found roses that have evidence to support that it may be this rose or that and see if the evidence is supported through DNA.

Also some of the roses that where suppose to be used a lot in breeding like Peace I wonder how many of it descendants are actually descendants.

Another thing I think would be interesting is taking one of the earlier classes such as Teas, Chinas, or Gallica or something else similar that has no breeding records and see how closely related different cultivars are.

Lastly any research that adds some information about the species especially research that fills in some of the gaps by using species that have not been used would be awesome.

Two more final questions come to mind.

First what is the average genetic difference between two cultivators with the same parentage. One being a dud and the other being a great rose.

Lastly what is the segregation rate using a cultivator as a pollen versus seed parent, and does that rate change in different parts of the rose family. This one would probably require seedlings to be grown.

lol, just use all of the Charlotte Armstrong/Floradora hybrids for some of the above questions.

How about testing the Banshee rose(s) to determine their relationship to other classes?


According to the best experts, the roses actually known as “Fortune’s Double Yellow” are not the original ones that was a quite reccurent smaller plant. Apparently lost now.

Nevertheless we have a few direct hybrids.

Looking also at founding chinese vars like Slater’s, Miss Lowe/Sanguinea, Parson’s/Old Blush and connections between them and related species would be a priority of mine.

I absolutely love Sanguinea. It is the only china I have ever liked, and the only one I think wholly suited to the PNW. It did have minor die back to the tips (complete blackness due to cold), which is uncommon in roses for a temperate rainforest climate, but it was easily snipped off in March when growth begins. However, it can sunscald, which was interesting. Blackspot, mildew, anthracnose, cane diseases, etc. were non-existant. It was pretty awesome.

Thanks, Jadae, you triggered a thought…Slater’s Crimson China, so many variants. Of course, logic dictates they are all seedlings. Prove it once and for all. Show they are related but siblings or other relatives. Would it be possible to determine which, if any, was the original?