Dr. Margaret Pooler

Research Leader
{Washington, DC}


Genetics, genetic resource evaluation, and genetic improvement of landscape trees and shrubs


The overall objective of this research is to evaluate, breed, and release improved landscape trees and shrubs that are disease and pest resistant, tolerant of environmental stresses, are not invasive, and are of superior ornamental value, with a focus on Cercis, Corylopsis, Gaylussacia, Halesia, Lagerstroemia, Prunus and Syringa. This objective is accomplished by developing new or improved genetic marker systems for assessing genetic diversity and accelerating genetic improvement of these genera; incorporating improved disease and stress resistance and ornamental traits into this germplasm using traditional and new breeding methodologies; and transferring superior landscape plant cultivars to the end users.


Superior cultivars of several genera of landscape plants have been released to the nursery industry, including ‘Chickasaw’, ‘Pocomoke’, ‘Arapaho’ and ‘Cheyenne’ crapemyrtles; ‘Dream Catcher’,‘First Lady’, and ‘Helen Taft’ flowering cherry; ‘Don Egolf’ redbud; ‘Betsy Ross’, ‘Old Glory’, and ‘Declaration’ lilacs; ‘Anacostia’ camellia; ‘Snow Panda’ Loropetalum; and ‘Nantucket’ viburnum. Molecular markers (AFLPs, SSRs) have been used to assess genetic diversity of accessions of flowering cherry, redbud, and crapemyrtle, as well as to verify hybrids in several genera.


Continue with breeding efforts in Cercis, Corylopsis, Halesia, Prunus, and Lagerstroemia, and continue with selections of hybrids plants in Syringa and Viburnum. Coordinate cooperative programs with the nursery industry to evaluate new selections and propagate new releases, to ensure transfer of this research to the end users. Use SSR markers to evaluate genetic relationships among taxa in ornamental Prunus. Establish molecular markers in other genera to aid in characterization, identification, selection and/or evaluation of plant material.


Pooler, M.R., Dix, R.L., and J. Feely. 2002. Interspecific hybridizations between the native bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, and the introduced invasive species, C. orbiculatus. Southeastern Naturalist 1(1):69-76.

Bentz, S.E., Riedel, L.G.H., Pooler, M.R. and A.M. Townsend. 2002. Hybridization and self-compatibility in controlled pollinations of eastern North American and Asian hemlock (Tsuga) species. J. Arboriculture 28(4): 200-205.

Pooler, M.R., Riedel, L.G.H., Bentz, S.E., and A.M. Townsend. 2002. Molecular markers used to verify interspecific hybridization between hemlock (Tsuga) species. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 127(4): 623-627.

Pooler, M.R., Jacobs, K.A., and M.H. Kramer. 2002. Differential resistance to Boyryosphaeria canker among Cercis taxa. Plant Disease 86:880-882.

Pooler, M.R. 2003. Molecular genetic diversity among twelve clones of Lagerstroemia fauriei revealed by AFLP and RAPD markers. HortScience 38: 256‑259.

Cheong, E. and M.R. Pooler. 2003. Micropropagation of Chinese redbud (Cercis yunnanensis) through axillary bud breaking and induction of adventitious shoots from leaf pieces. In Vitro Cell Dev Biol - Plant 39:455-458.

Elias, T.S. and M.R. Pooler. 2004. The identity of the African firebush (Hamelia) in the ornamental nursery trade. HortScience 39:1224-1226.

Cheong, E. and M.R. Pooler. 2004. Factors affecting somatic embryogenesis in Prunus incisa cv. February Pink. Plant Cell Reports 22: 810-815.

Pooler, M.R. and A.M. Townsend. 2005. DNA fingerprinting of clones and hybrids of American elm and other elm species with AFLP markers. Journal of Environmental Horticulture 23(3):113-117.

Pounders, C., Reed, S. and Pooler, M. 2006. Comparison of self- and cross-pollination on pollen tube growth, seed development, and germination in crapemyrtle. HortScience 41(3):575-578.

Pooler, M.R. 2006. ‘Arapaho’ and ‘Cheyenne’ Lagerstroemia. HortScience 41(3):855-856.

Pooler, M.R., Dix, R.L. and R.J. Griesbach. 2006. Genetic diversity of the endangered box huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera) based on AFLP markers. J. Torrey Bot. Soc. 133(3):439-448.

Pooler, M.R. 2007 ‘Dream Catcher’ and ‘First Lady’ flowering cherry. HortScience 42:174-175.

Ma, H., Pooler, M.R. and R.J. Griesbach. 2008. Ratio of Myc and Myb transcription factors regulates anthocyanin production in orchid flowers. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 133(1):133-138.

Pooler, M., R. Nicholson, and A. Vandergrift. 2008. Clonal fidelity in large colonies of box huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera Gray) assessed by DNA fingerprinting. Northeastern Naturalist 15(1):67-74.

Pooler, M. 2008. ‘Betsy Ross’, ‘Old Glory’, and ‘Declaration’ lilacs. Hortscience 43(2):544-545.

Ma, H., Pooler, M. and R. Griesbach. 2009. Anthocyanin regulatory/structural gene expression in Phalaenopsis. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 134:88-96.

Ma, H., Olsen, R., Kramer, M. and Pooler, M. 2009. Evaluation of flowering cherry species, hybrids, and cultivars using simple sequence repeat markers. J. Amer. Soc. Hort Sci. 134:435-444.

Rinehart, T., Trigiano, R., Wadl, P., Hadziabdic, D., Pooler, M. Scheffler, B. Characterization of twelve microsatellite markers for the native redbud tree (Cercis canadensis). Molecular Ecology Resources 10:751-754.

Pooler, M.R. 2010. ‘Cree’ and ‘Nantucket’ Viburnums. HortScience 45:1384-1385.

Pooler, M.R. 2011. ‘Anacostia’ Camellia. HortScience 46:139-140.

Wang, X., Wadl, P., Pounders, C., Trigiano, R., Cabrera, R., Scheffler, B., Pooler, M. Rinehart, T. 2011. Evaluation of genetic diversity and pedigree within crapemyrtle cultivars using simple sequence repeat markers. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 136:116-128.

Reed, S., Pooler, M. 2012. ‘Firefly’ Clethra. Hortscience 47(3):429-430.

Pooler, M., Ma, H., Kidwell-Slak, D. 2012. Interploid hybridizations in ornamental cherries using Prunus maackii. J. Environmental Horticulture 30(2):89-92.

Wadl, P. Trigiano, R. Werner, D. Pooler, M. Rinehart, T. 2012. Simple sequence repeat markers from Cercis Canadensis show wide cross-species transfer and use in genetic studies. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci 137(3):189-201.

Nadler, J.D., Pooler, M., Olsen, R.T., Coleman, G.D. 2012. In vitro induction of polyploidy in Cercis glabra Pamp. Scientia Horticulturae 148: 126-130.

Pooler, M., Ma, H. 2013. Interspecific hybridizatioins in ornamental flowering cherries validated by simple sequence repeat analysis. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 138(3): 198-204.

Pooler, M. 2013. Loropetalum ‘Snow Panda’. HortScience 48(7): 906.

Li, R., Kinard, G., Mock, R., Forsline, P., Pooler, M. Stover, E. 2013. A survey for viruses and virus-like pathogens in the US cherry genetic resources. Proc. 22nd International Conf. on virus and other transmissible diseases of fruit crops. Petria 22(3): 208-217.

Lura, S., Pooler, M. and J. Kirkbride. 2013. Description and history of Syringa oblata subsp. oblata ‘Frank Meyer’. Hanburyana 7:37-40.

Pooler, M. 2013. Prunus ‘Helen Taft’ and ‘Abigail Adams’. HortScience: 48(9):1195-1196.

Kidwell-Slak, D., Kramer, M., Pooler, M. 2014. Box huckleberry roots at highest percentages from softwood stem cuttings. J. Environ. Hort. 32(4):193-195.

Thammina, C.S., Olsen, R.T., Malapi-Wight, M., Crouch, J., Pooler, M. 2014. Development of polymorphic genic-SSR markers by cDNA library sequencing in boxwood, Buxus spp. (Buxaceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 2(12):1400095. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3732/apps.1400095