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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center

Location: Application Technology Research Unit

2008 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.


3.Progress Report

In response to Herbaceous Ornamental Crop Germplasm Committee (HOCGC) recommendations to reduce the size of the clonal collections, the number of Pelargonium accessions was reduced by 78%, from 885 accessions down to 194; this was accomplished through evaluation of Target Region Amplification Polymorphism marker data and pedigree analysis. Additionally, the number of clonally-maintained Begonia accessions was reduced by 20%, from 158 accessions down to 126. Germplasm Resources Information Network entry of accession and inventory data was completed in early 2007. There was improved industry participation in OPGC genus-specific Technical Working Groups; added 15 members to 5 genus groups. Fourteen accessions were acquired during 2007-2008 including 10 for the priority genera. A major improvement in plant culture was achieved through the purchase of sulfur pots, one per greenhouse compartment. Reduction of fungus contamination on plants will prevent seed contamination, thereby improving overall seed health and quality post-harvest. In 2008, the Center shipped 41 orders containing germplasm from 31 genera. We distributed 406 order items representing 363 distinct accessions. Characterization work began on the OPGC collection. Highlights of this effort include a nutrition survey of the Pelargonium collection at the OPGC. This data resulted in the identification of about 20 accessions with tendencies to have very high or low nutrient concentrations. The most promising accessions can be tested for resistance to nutritional-based disorders such as Sudden pH Decline. A Research Agricultural Engineer with USDA-ARS has been working on plant factors that influence pesticide effectiveness by using Pelargonium tomentosum and Pelargonium stenopetalum. Using these model plants will help researchers grasp how plant traits influence the sprays and sprayers used when delivering chemicals onto crop canopies. A Research Entomologist with USDA-ARS revisited an older study investigating Japanese beetle behavior after consuming Pelargonium flower petals. Within minutes of consuming the petals, the beetles became paralyzed and died. The active compound is now being isolated. A Virologist with The University of Toledo screened 37 Pelargonium accessions for virus. From this analysis, 29 of the accessions were infected with Pelargonium flower break virus (PFBV) and 4 were infected with Pelargonium line pattern virus (PLPV). Additional OPGC Pelargonium species are being evaluated for the presence of PFBV, PLPV, and other viruses. This project was monitored through regular email correspondence, monthly or twice monthly site visits, and regular phone calls.


Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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