Development of molecular markers for redbay (Persea borbonia L.)

2014 | Haiying Liang, Clemson University

Redbay (Persea borbonia) is a native species in the southeastern United States. Redbay’s fine-grained wood has significant industrial value, and its fruits are a valuable food source for wild animals. However, Laurel wilt disease has caused high levels of redbay death, threatening the sustainability of this economically and ecologically important woody plant species. Planting resistant clones of trees is the most promising approach to combat the disease. Large-scale development of molecular markers and DNA-informed breeding is imperative in advancing crop improvement. This proposal aims to initiate a small-scale analysis of 200 DNA markers obtained from a shallow genome-sequencing project of redbay to reveal the genetic composition of 80 putatively resistant clones. The markers developed in the study will be useful in revealing genetic diversity, identifying resistance traits, and breeding for resistance.

Study Results
Redbay is a native tree of the swamp forests of the United States Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plains. It is ecologically important as the sole host of an endangered butterfly, and it has cultural significance in Native American and traditional Southern US cooking. In the past decade, redbay populations have suffered extensive mortality caused by the vascular disease Laurel wilt. Efforts to identify redbay individuals resistant to this fungus are ongoing, with an ultimate goal of breeding resistance into natural populations. This project seeks to augment traditional methods by using “marker-assisted breeding,” an approach that utilizes information about variation in DNA sequences to create maps of the genome that can be used to identify the locations of genes that control characteristics of interest to the breeders – in this case resistance to Laurel wilt. The relatively low expense of genome sequencing allows potentially suitable markers to be identified – minimally, DNA sequences that vary among redbay individuals and for which simple molecular screening methods can be developed. The project initially identified over 200 potentially useful DNA markers; subsequent studies showed that around 50 of these have characteristics that meet the criteria needed for subsequent genetic studies of redbay.

Year: 2014

Funding Duration: 1-3 years

Grant Program: Jack Kimmel International Grant

Grant Title: Development of molecular markers for redbay (Persea borbonia L.)

Researcher: Dr. Haiying Liang

Key words:

Peer Reviewed Publications from Grant:

General Audience/Trade Publications:


  • Liang, Haiying, Chien-Chih Chen, David Wildman, Margaret Staton, Oliver Bukles, Scott E. Schlarbaum, John E. Carlson. “Development of molecular markers for redbay (Persea borbonia L.).” Poster at Plant Biology meeting, Honolulu, HI, June 24-28, 2017.


For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at