Mitochondrial DNA

Has anyone run across information about mitochondrial DNA influencing winter hardiness in roses or other plants?

For years I’ve thought it plays a role, which would influence the choice of seed parent. I suppose with Help Me Find it would be possible to search through generations to see if there is evidence to support whether the female parent controls winter hardiness. Has anyone done this?


I could not find any information using several search engines. Of course that may just mean that I did not set up the searches correctly.

Possibly a recent advanced textbook may cover this, but I do not see a trip to a research library in the next several weeks.


You have probably seen this paper on the inheritance of winter hardiness in roses, but in case you have not here it is - FELICITAS SVEJDA INHERITANCE OF WINTERHARDINESS IN ROSES Euphytica 28 (1979) 309-314. She does not mention anything about maternal inheritance in this paper. However the experiment was not set up to exactly test this either. Her results indicate that winter hardiness is quantitatively inherited, but the heritability is quite high ranging between 51-92%, suggesting that it is controlled by a few genes. I suspect that it probably is not maternally inherited, as several roses in the Explorer series have the hardiness coming from the male side of the pedigree, Alexander MacKenzie and Lambert Closse. Liz

This is a very interesting idea.

Winter hardiness is something I cannot test here french Riviera but cytoplasmic inheritance is for me what explains that first year/monthes uniform desease susceptibility of seedlings from the same mother I often observe. Within a few monthes and/or when these plants are grown more remote this uniformity vanish and there are some that are quite desease free when as seedlings they were not at all.

That is why I never do early selection for desease resistance.

Pierre Rutten

Thanks for the info on the Svejda article, Liz.

I went back and retrieved part of a thread from rec.gardens.roses posted in December of 1994 (Did I mention I’ve been wondering about M-DNA for years?):

Me – “I was wondering whether or not (mitochondrial DNA) might make a difference in winter hardiness . . . The Osborne book on Hardy Roses explained a phenomenon where the cells supercool themselves by loosing most of the water contained in the cell, thereby preventing ice crystals from forming and rupturing the cell wall. Is there any possibility that the mitochondria could be related to this function?”

Marily Young – "Hmmmm… very interesting question… hmmmm! Since the mitochondrial DNA functions in controlling the cell metabolism, and… since the metabolic processes control the amount of water retained in the cells… and that, in turn, affects the damage due to freezing… (due to the formation of ice crystals, as you mentioned). Do we want to trace the “mitochondrial family trees” to research winter

hardiness? VERY interesting question! I wonder if there’s anybody out there “listening” who’s looking for a thesis topic…??? "

Thanks to the tree feature built into Help Me Find, research into possibly inherited traits from DNA may be manageable, at least as far as building a hypothesis is concerned. For instance, Carefree Beauty has Prairie Princess for a seed parent, and Carefree Wonder has Prairie Princess for a pollen parent.

Carefree Beauty (CB) should carry the mitochondrial DNA from r. wichuraiana in the background of Applejack (follow just the seed parents back on the tree). Carefree Wonder (CW) should carry DNA from the grandiflora Carrousel through Prairie Princess (PP). Unfortunately, I don’t know the mitochondrial roses prior to Carrousel since the seed parent is listed as “seedling”. I thought I read an article on Buck’s roses, perhaps in an OLD RHA newsletter, that explained his reason for choosing Carrousel for a parent. Perhaps Buck also knew the background of the female parent. Does anyone here know it?

I grow CB, but not CW. Does anyone have several years of experience and observations on growing both? How about experience with CB compared to PP?

Liz, I’ll find that article and read it. Thanks!


Have you looked at ?

A companion site to a textbook, you can look up Topics, Essays, and Readings with each containing interesting material along with substantial and surprisingly current references. I