Rhododendron Research Network

Newsletter - July 23, 2019
In this issue:
Presentations, networking and working groups
Join your fellow Rhododendron researchers at the American Rhododendron Society 75th Anniversary Convention April 29 - May 3 2020, hosted by the Portland Oregon Chapter.

Activities of interest to researchers will include:
  • Oral presentations
    • Hear from experts on Rhododendron in subject areas ranging from horticulture and conservation to genetics and evolution
  • Poster session
    • Communicate your research to fellow scientists and the public
  • Networking opportunities
    • Meet and collaborate with people from a variety of disciplines
  • Field trips
    • Learn about conservation, diversity and cultural importance of Rhododendron
  • R-RN working groups
    • Network members will meet to formulate plans for a collaborative grant proposal and experiments
For more information about research-related activities at the ARS 2020 meeting, please contact Juliana Medeiros (jmedeiros@holdenfg.org).

Click here to view the Portland Chapter Webpage

Benjamin D. Hall (1932-2019)
Dr. Benjamin D. Hall passed away on April 2, 2019. Ben began his career in Physical Chemistry at the University of Illinois, Champaign, but then moved to the University of Washington (UW), Seattle, as a Professor in both Genetics and Botany. His early research contributed to the central dogma of molecular biology, how DNA produces proteins through an RNA intermediate. At the UW, he began characterizing yeast RNA polymerases, which transcribe DNA into RNA. His yeast research led to patents that used yeast to produce Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines and human insulin. 

In the 1990s, Ben became interested in native rhododendrons after being introduced to hybrid rhododendrons for gardening. Revenue from his patents allowed him to shift his research to rhododendrons. He then pioneered the use of RNA polymerase genes to study the genetics and evolution of rhododendrons. More recently, he was the first to use advanced sequencing technologies across Rhododendron species to understand how rhododendrons have speciated and dispersed across the world. Ben was very active in the rhododendron community; he served on various committees for the American Rhododendron Society and the Rhododendron Species Foundation. In honor of Ben’s work, Rhododendron benhallii was named after him.

A memorial will be held for Dr. Hall on Thursday, September 12, 2019, at the University of Washington, Center for Urban Horticulture, 2:00-4:00 pm.
Ryan Fuller joins R-RN Steering Committee
Ryan Fuller (MSc), a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, was recently appointed graduate student representative for the Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN). Currently, Ryan works on species delimitation, phylogeography, hybridization, and polyploidy in subsections Lapponica and Triflora of the Hengduan Mountains, China.
When asked about his goals as R-RN student representative, Ryan had this to say:
“My hope is to help shed light on the exciting and diverse research being done on the genus Rhododendron as well as inspire prospective students at all levels to get involved. Over the last year, I have collected specimens in China and visited living collections in Edinburgh, Scotland and Washington, USA. Here, I spoke with many botanical professionals performing research on everything from evolutionary biology to horticultural propagation. Much remains unknown about Rhododendron and it’s an exciting time to be getting involved in a prominent element of the North Temperate flora! It would be a pleasure to hear from anyone currently working on the group or interested in how to get involved.”

Click Here to contact Ryan or learn more about his research.
Literature Database Grows to 2500+ Articles
Are you interesting in finding scientific articles about Rhododendron, but don't have a lot of time to crawl through databases full of irrelevant articles?

Our Rhododendron literature database now contains 2500+ references, with excellent coverage from 1980-2019, and we continue to update our references on a quarterly basis. In addition, we are working with American Rhododendron Society volunteers to add rare references, some dating as far back as 1571.

Click Here to join our literature database group.
The Publication Highlight below describes a recent addition to our database.

Publication Highlight

Rapid Changes in Eastern Himalaya

Dr. Fang Zhendong and Dr. Robbie Hart on
Da Xue Shan in Yunnan Province, China.
Image Credit: Elsa Hart.
The Hengduan Mountains, at the easternmost Himalaya, is one of the most biodiverse regions of the globe, but this region is also experiencing rapid climate change, having warmed approximately 1.4°C since 1985.

Dr. Salick and colleagues investigated how these changes have impacted the alpine vegetation in three Hengduan mountain chains, finding evidence for increased frequency, richness and diversity of plant species in alpine areas over the last 7 years.

Surprisingly, areas where Rhododendron species were more frequent showed fewer changes than other vegetation types. This work emphasizes the importance of Rhododendron in the Hengduan alpine ecosystem and provides new evidence of their potential to define ecosystem structure and function.

Salick, J, Z Fang, and R Hart 2019 Rapid changes in eastern Himalayan alpine flora with climate change. American Journal of Botany 106(4): 1–11

Click here to read the full article in the American Journal of Botany 

Research Highlight

Offspring Ploidy Level of Triploid Deciduous Azalea
By John Perkins, Sally Perkins, Mariana Castro, Silvia Castro, Lucie Mota, Daniela Tavares, José Cerca, and João Loureiro

Our collaborative research team, including members of the American Rhododendron Society and Faculty at the University of Coimbra Portugal, are investigating the ploidy level of the seedlings produced from polypoid crosses using flow cytometry. We hope to show that diploids are sometimes produced from 3x X 2x crosses. Here we investigated 'Anna's Smile', a very seed-fertile triploid deciduous azalea that had as parents an unknown Ghent deciduous azalea and the diploid species arborescens. Most Ghents are either triploids or tetraploids.

In total 42 of 48 crosses produced seedpods, and the following crosses took where 'Anna's Smile' (3x) was the seed parent:
Pollen parent ploidy Number successful (produced seedpods) Number failed Notes
2x 8 4 Failures likely not hardy at study site; failure by R. cumberlandense red inconsistent with other results
3x 1 2 Failures appear to be seed sterile
4x 30 0 Successes include known and suspected tetraploids
6x 1 0  
8x 1 0  

For more information about this research, or to express your interest in collaboration, please contact John Perkins (john.a.perkins@gmail.com).

The American Rhododendron Society

Research as a core objective
The Rhododendron Research Network was founded in 2017 as a collaboration between an international group of researchers and the American Rhododendron Society (ARS). Support for research has been a core objective of the ARS since its founding in 1945, including disseminating information, improving access to resources, and providing funding.

Research is disseminated by the ARS in the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society. This journal provides in-depth, expert information on all aspects of Rhododendron, ranging from horticulture to genetics to biogeography. Membership includes access to new issues, and archived issues going back to 1947 can be accessed by the public via the Virginia Tech Online Portal.

Access to seed resources is facilitated by the ARS Seed Exchange begun in 1963, with the specific goal of selecting stress resistant progeny. Seeds of hundreds of hard-to-find species have been collected from all over and shared through this program. Members have access to the seed exchange before it opens to the public.

Funding for research is provided by the ARS Research Foundation, which was formed in 1976. Managed separately from the ARS Endowment Fund, The Foundation fund is dedicated to funding research. Over 150 awards have been made, representing a substantial contribution to the body of knowledge on Rhododendron

Please consider supporting our ongoing commitment to research:

Click here to become an ARS member or Click here to make a donation
Call for Steering Committee Nominations

Are you interested in collaboration?
Do you want to broaden your research network?

Nominate yourself (or a colleague) to serve on our Steering Committee.
Open Steering Committee positions include:
International ScientistsRhododendron and the researchers who study them are distributed all over the world, we need a representative interested in developing plans for international networking and collaboration
Collaborative Review Articles – There is already a rich history of Rhododendron research, we need a representative interested in leading an R-RN working group to draft a review focused on any topic area in Rhododendron.
Committee members serve a two-year term, with possibility of reappointment. Members are expected to work with Chairs, with each other, and with network members to advance network objectives, provide oversight for network activities (e.g. provide feedback on governance decisions and action plans), contribute to the annual report, and develop action items of their own. Committee members must be members of the R-RN. Prospective steering committee members are nominated by network members and approved by majority vote of the steering committee.
Nominees should be received by September 1. Those with appropriate qualifications (outlined above) will be contacted by the steering committee Chairs to determine if the nomination is accepted. Once the nomination is accepted, nominees will supply a CV to the committee prior to the voting period (October 1st -15th).

Visit the R-RN Webpage to learn more about network governance.
Advance and inspire your research and collaborations on Rhododendron
Click Here to learn more about Rhododendron Research Network
Click Here to learn more about the American Rhododendron Society
Submit Your Newsletter Items

Submit by November 15th for the January 2020 edition.
Jobs, grants, publications, collaborative projects, or any news about Rhododendron research, to: Juliana Medeiros, jmedeiros@holdenarb.org

You are invited to share this newsletter via email or social media:

Copyright © 2019 Rhododendron Research Network, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
c/o Dr. Juliana S. Medeiros
The Holden Arboretum
9500 Sperry Rd., Kirtland, OH 44094