Doctoral defense Public defense doctoral dissertation Shusheng Wang

Title doctoral dissertation: Increased tolerance of Rhododendron to soil lime: insights from geographic distribution analysis, in-vitro experiments and greenhouse studies

Abstract doctoral research

Rhododendrons are valued ornamental plants with high economic importance, but their growth is typically hindered in lime soils. This research focused on the assessment and selection of Rhododendron species and genotypes with lime tolerance, utilizing a combination of geographic distribution analysis, in-vitro experiments and greenhouse studies. By building a dataset of 31,146 naturally distributed Rhododendron specimens including the information on taxonomy (525 taxa in total), geocoded GPS locations and
soil physico-chemical properties, we predicted lime tolerance in Rhododendron taxa and identified 76 potentially tolerant taxa, providing valuable resources for breeding programs. Besides, ‘Haplic Luvisol’ is found as a dominant soil unit for Rhododendron distribution in China, with pH being a key determinant. In-vitro experiments evaluated the impact of alkaline pH and calcium treatments on seed germination and growth, revealing genotypic heterogeneity in tolerance. Chlorophyll fluorescence imaging is confirmed as an efficient screening tool for high-throughput selection of tolerant genotypes, enabling breeding acceleration. Further greenhouse studies identified genotypes with improved tolerance to soil lime. Overall, this study presents a comprehensive approach to improve rhododendrons with lime tolerance, providing valuable insights for future research, conservation and breeding efforts.

The public defence will take place on 7th March, 2024 at 17:00 in the Academieraadzaal (Hall of the Academic Board), room A0.030 (A0.1 Azalea) at Campus Coupure, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Ghent.

You can also join online Microsoft Teams meeting Click here to join the meeting (Meeting ID: 320 895 273 146 - Passcode: VEphwd)

There will be a contiguous reception to which you are heartily invited at coffee room A0.081.
Please confirm your attendance before 2nd March 2024.