Dr. Lisa Alexander

Research Geneticist
{McMinnville, TN}


Genetics, Genetic Improvement, and Improved Production Efficiency of Nursery Crops


Conducts research to develop, evaluate, and release improved germplasm of selected nursery crop species, including, but not limited to, Hydrangea, Osmanthus, and Callicarpa, and utilize genetic markers to accelerate the breeding process


We will continue a project to develop Hydrangea quercifolia cultivars with improved flowering, foliage, and form. Over 1500 F2 seedlings derived from hybridizations between ‘Snow Queen’ and the compact cultivars ‘Pee Wee’ and ‘Sikes Dwarf’ were evaluated for compact plant habit, quality and quantity of inflorescences, disease resistance and fall foliage color. Ninety plants were selected in 2005 for additional evaluations, and one was eventually released as ‘Ruby Slippers’. Additional H. quercifolia selections from this population may be distributed to cooperators in the next 3 years. Crosses were made between ‘Munchkin’ and ‘Ruby Slippers’, but have not yet been evaluated. We will evaluate this population during this project cycle with the goal of sending selections to cooperators and producing an F2 population during the next project cycle.


Evaluate germplasm such as Hydrangea, Osmanthus, and Callicarpa for nursery production and landscape potential; develop and apply molecular markers for Hydrangea mapping and marker assisted selection; and accelerate the development of superior Hydrangea germplasm using ploidy manipulations and wide hybridization.


Craddock, J.H., Alexander, M.T., Alexander, S.H., Bramblett, J.L., and L.M. Worthen. 2005. Chestnut cultivar evaluations in Tennessee: orchard establishment and early germplasm characterization. Acta Horticulturae 693:465-470.

Alexander, M.T., Worthen, L.M., and J.H. Craddock. 2005. Conservation of Castanea dentata germplasm in the Southeastern United States. Acta Horticulturae 693:485-490.

Worthen, L.M., Michler, C.H., and KE. Woeste. 2010. Wildlife reintroductions: the conceptual development and application of theory. In J.A. DeWoody, .T.W. Bickham, C.H. Michler, K Nichols,
O.E. Rhodes and KE. Woeste (eds.) Molecular approaches in natural resource conservation and management. Cambridge University Press. 392p. ISBN: 9780521515641

Worthen, L.M., Woeste, KB., and C.H. Michler. 2010. Breeding American chestnuts for blight resistance. Plant Breeding Reviews 33:305-339. ISBN: 9780470525852

Alexander, L.W. and KE. Woeste. 2014. Pyrosequencing of the northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) chloroplast genome reveals high-quality polymorphisms for population management. Tree Genetics & Genomes 10:803-812