Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Rosaceae, Aronia, Chokeberry, species complex, Aronia breeding, anthocyanins, intergeneric hybrids

Major Advisor

Mark H. Brand

Associate Advisor

Gregory J. Anderon

Associate Advisor

Kent Holsinger

Field of Study

Plant Science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Aronia (Rosaceae) chokeberry is a genus of shrubs originally native to eastern North America. The taxonomy of this genus is complex and species boundaries are not clear. The genus is thought to be composed of the wild A. melanocarpa, A. prunifolia, and A. arbutifolia; plus cultivated A. mitschurinii, originating from Russia. Over 100 accessions of Aronia were obtained from germplasm repositories and wild collection. Three studies were conducted using this plant material.

The first study revealed the North American taxa are distinct from each other and from A. mitschurinii. Accessions of the same species clustered together using unweighted pair group method with arithmetic mean. Principal coordinate analysis also supported these Aronia species as distinct.

A second study examined biochemically beneficial compounds found in wild Aronia. This analysis of wild types showed that A. mitschurinii generally has lower antioxidant (ORAC) values and has about the same or slightly lower anthocyanin amounts than A. melanocarpa. Later harvested fruit showed higher anthocyanin levels in A. mitschurinii and A. melanocarpa. Aronia prunifolia and A. arbutifolia were found to have high phenolic levels. These findings reveal that wild Aronia species all contain useful biologically active compounds.

The last study of this dissertation explored the gene pool available to Aronia breeders. Seven hundred pollinations were conducted between Aronia and related genera. Compatibility was found between Aronia, Sorbus, and xSorbaronia, resulting in complex intergeneric combinations. Backcrosses of xSorbaronia to Aronia and Sorbus were accomplished. Slight compatibility was found between Pyrus and Aronia, a previously unreported combination.