Phrag. kovachii test results

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Jason Fischer
Aug 26, 2006
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Up-date on Phrag. kovachii testing and various posts (posted by Jerry Fischer)

This will be the last and only time I will reply or post on the various forums regarding the Phrag. kovachii problems with one particular sib cross of kovachii.

Chuck Acker and I did buy some flasks of Phrag. kovachii from Peruflora who does have all of the necessary permits to engage in the cultivation of 5 plants of Phrag. kovachii, the setting of seed pods, the raising of seedlings in and out of flasks in Peru and the export of these seedlings. Manolos lab is one of the best I have seen in the world and is fairly large. Everything looks excellent. The Peruvian government would have never issued permits for me to take the seedlings out of the country had they not approved his work. The USDA signed off on our import permits and CITES. They are legal plants.

We have been very patiently growing these plants and many of the hybrids. We first brought them into the US in April of 2005. As these plants grew we were quite excited to see that one of the sib crosses of kovachii ‘Jewel’ x ‘Roseline’ grew faster than the rest. It wasn’t until this past fall and winter that Chuck and I first had our doubts about this particular sib cross. The leaves didn’t look like the other kovachii sibs we have and they looked different than the adult plants leaves we had seen in Peru.

Mark Whitten at the University of Florida has been working on the DNA sequencing of all of the Phragmipedium species. We understand that he did have the opportunity at an earlier date to sequence the leaves from Manrique’s (CJM) kovachii. This was published in winter of 2005 in ORCHIDS magazine. I believe four different clones were sequenced. Based upon that knowledge we both decided to have the sib cross ‘Jewel’ x ‘Roseline’ and other kovachii sib crosses tested at his lab. Mark’s test results of our plants confirmed what we thought, that indeed the Jewel x Roseline sib was a hybrid. The others came out as kovachii. I then sent samples for testing to the University of Minnesota just to be sure and have an independent labs expertise as well. The results were the same exactly. This cost us a great deal of time and money but at least we know what is what and we also know that the other sibs are real. We have no doubt that everything else we have with kovachii as a parent is the correct hybrid cross.

I want to make it clear that when Chuck and I were in Peru we selected flasks from one shelf that had nice looking seedlings in the bottle. This same sib cross was also on other shelves but we selected the more vigorous ones. I mention this because if others had purchased the cross ‘Jewel’ x ‘Roseline’ they may indeed have the real thing. It is possible that a lab employee made this one mistake during flasking with a few of the bottles.. Perhaps the only way to be sure is to have them sequenced. People should not jump to conclusion that because of the problem Chuck and I encountered then certainly all of the flasks by Peruflora must be wrong.

Manolo will do right by us.

I have also e-mailed my customers who have e-mail and am contacting others by phone to explain the situation and offer replacement suggestions. So far everyone has been very gracious. This is all I have to say about the matter and I will now go about the wonderful business of growing my plants and helping customers.

Sincerely, Jerry Lee Fischer, Orchids Limited.
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Kind of ironic that DNA sequencs of Pk plants belonging to CJM 's owner Alfredo Manrique were used to determine that Pk flasks of the competition, Peruflora, contained hybrids rather than the Pk species.

Peruflora crosses that could be similarly affected are numbered 751 to 758
No one knows for sure how many flasks are affected, only time will tell.
What I like to find out, is Manolo replacing the flasks purchased by individuals?
Any mis-labeled flask that we received are going to be replaced. Since our pre-orders never got shipped out, we can ship the plants that should be kovachii. I posted earlier about not having mature kovachii DNA testing done and must apologize for the mistake. The DNA testing WAS done on true mature kovachii. Sorry for the confusion (Jason). My father does not have an ID on slippertalk, so he uses mine, which adds a little to the confusion :).

One thing that I am now re-assured of is that they truly are the slowest growing phrag. ever, and I will not be surprised if we don't see a true seedling flower until 5 to 7 more years from now.
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Thank you Mr Fisher. There is only one issue you should confirm with Dr Mark Whitten at UF in Gainsville, about what material he used to have DNA sequence of PK. These were 4 diferent mature PK plants from CJM Orchids as it is published in Orchids 2005. From these plants they obtained the DNA fingerprints. Even if there were seedlings, the DNA sequence is the same. It took a long process of negociations with INRENA and Univ of Florida to be able to work with this plant material. We have no idea were tha legal plants used by Univ of Minnesota came from. INRENA has no record of any CITES issued to Univ of Min. for PK plant material. As we all know there is a lot of ilegal PK worldwide. If PK is almost extinct in the original habitat is because ilegal collectors from in and outside Peru empty already the habitat. PK is safe from extinction. Its horticultural value is endless, but the conservation status will be soon exctinted from the habitat, but ilegal in everybodies collection worlwide. Unless an orchid fan buys just one plant to the legal exporters (only two by now), there is no other way to grow, hybridise or get an awarded clone. It is good for the survival of the specie that good growers as Mr Fisher and Mr Acker continue their work with their proved PK material. There is a lot to be done for the specie. If they could share their knowledge with good Phrag growers it would be great for PK.
Thank you for sharing scientific data until know. People will value any kind of collaboration to help PK from extinction. It is not an issue of money, profit, but a survival of a very nice orchid.

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