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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center

Location: Application Technology Research Unit

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The objectives of this cooperative project are to conserve, distribute, and characterize ornamental plant germplasm, and incorporate new or existing technologies for conserving primarily seed and secondarily clonally propagated germplasm for effective utilization in ornamental horticulture.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center was established in 1999 and since then, it has become a fully operational repository for herbaceous ornamental plants and an integral part of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. The core mission of the OPGC is “to furnish genetic raw materials and associated information to enhance American floricultural productivity to ensure a high-quality supply of herbaceous ornamentals.” To accomplish this mission, priority genera have been identified to most effectively accomplish its mission including Begonia, Coreopsis, Lilium, Phlox, Rudbeckia, and Viola. Three components inherent within the core OPGC mission include; conservation of genetic resources, characterization of those resources, and education and outreach including distribution of OPGC germplasm to appropriate users. Conservation -- The priority genera collection will continue and include representatives of selected priority species within the genera. Priority species will be identified in collaboration with stakeholders including seed companies, commercial nurseries, and genera-specific technical working groups. Species will be collected primarily through donations and collection trips. Characterization -- Collected material must be adequately characterized to ensure that the germplasm captures genera diversity and that the germplasm is used correctly. Characterization will include genetic “fingerprinting” or mapping as well as phenotypic descriptions based on approved descriptor lists. This information will be entered into the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database to increase the accessibility and value of the collection to the industry. Education and Outreach -- Distribution of germplasm to bona fide users will continue to fulfill a need for the industry and establish OPGC as a leading herbaceous ornamental plant repository. By hosting workshops and distributing newsletters, OPGC can educate the industry regarding technologies created, used, and refined through its efforts. OPGC will also maintain its linkage to the industry and professional organizations through participation and memberships in appropriate scientific societies and working groups.


3.Progress Report:

This is the final report for this project. We have focused on developing germplasm of the priority genera, particularly Coreopsis, Phlox, and Rudbeckia and have undertaken exploration trips to the Southeast, central and eastern Texas, Mid-Atlantic region, Arizona, Ohio River Valley, and the Ozarks. For Begonia we have expanded our focus on species that can be stored as seed, but have also added species with unique attributes, such as yellow flowers, that could be hybridized with commercial forms that lack such traits. For Coreopsis and Rudbeckia we have emphasized wild-collected material, but have also included important cultivars to serve as reference for comparisons in characterization/ evaluation trials.

In the last 3 years we have increased the number of accessions of Phlox from 2 to over 200 through a combination of wild-collected material and cultivars to develop a comprehensive and useful germplasm collection that is being thoroughly characterized and utilized in interspecific hybridization studies. A major emphasis in the past 3 years has been placed on characterization of germplasm for priority genera. Crop descriptors for Coreopsis, Phlox, and Rudbeckia have been approved. Additional crop descriptors in Begonia, Lilium and Viola have been developed. Over 200 accessions of Coreopsis and Rudbeckia have been characterized in field studies. Extensive survey of ploidy in these genera and in Phlox have also been done with flow cytometry.

We have maintained over 3500 accessions of 190 genera of herbaceous ornamental plants. On average we have been regenerating approximately 50 accessions through field plantings each year and have assessed viability in approximately 100 accessions yearly.


Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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