Two Stories: One Lasting Legacy
The Texas A&M University Rose Breeding and Genetics Program is a direct result of the generosity and dedication of Robert E. Basye and Ralph Moore. Dr. Basye began the Rose Breeding and Genetics Program by endowing the Chair in Rose Genetics in the early 1990s. His goal in breeding was to “develop the bush on which to hang those wonderful flowers” and he focused on rose bush adaptation and disease resistance. As a result, he developed amphidiploids which he then crossed with the commercial tetraploid garden roses. He also used some native North American species in his work. He believed that a university was the natural choice to ensure a long term research program, “where the torch can be passed.” After the chair was established, the program focused on germplasm and resistance development, black spot resistance, the genetic relationships between rose species, and explored molecular markers and their role in accelerating the rose breeding process.
Ralph Moore enriched the existing program with his rose germplasm contribution. He was a commercial rose breeder and heralded as the Father of the Miniature Rose. He also successfully worked with unique rose traits such as striped flowers, moss roses, halo flowers, and variegated flowers. He helped to incorporate a wide range of genetic material into the modern rose germplasm, and was well-known for both his enthusiasm and generosity. It was with this humble and generous attitude that he donated both his cultivars and materials to the A&M Rose Breeding and Genetics Program, in recognition and support of Dr. Basye’s work and research.
Interestingly, while both of these inspirational men knew of the other’s work, they never met, resulting in a unique legacy. Both were passionate and operated on the belief that a privately endowed program at a university, in this case the Texas A&M University Rose Breeding and Genetics Program, was the best option to continue their legacy of developing sustainable, well adapted, and beautiful roses.