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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center
2010 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

Activities in germplasm acquisition, characterization, and distribution continued throughout. In addition, some upgrading of facilities has been underway: (1) The main laboratory has been upgraded with a laminar flow hood and an autoclave, to permit small-scale experimentation with micropropagation and virus elimination of clonal material. (2) A 12,000 sq ft fenced gravel area adjacent to the OPGC greenhouses has been obtained to develop into a site for characterization and evaluation of germplasm under different growing conditions (shade, sandy or saturated soils, screens, etc) that will support the growth of priority genera. At present the site provides irrigated space to grow accessions in pots for characterization and seed production of selected material. Germplasm distribution: we distributed 66 orders containing a total of 887 items; 34.8% of orders were placed by U.S. state agencies and universities, but most of the items (59.1%) went to U.S. commercial companies. Germplasm acquisition: we’ve made a concerted effort to expand our collection of Phlox. We’ve gone from 1 accession of Phlox paniculata to 119 accessions of various species: 28 of these have been either field collections (in TN, OH, and GA) or donations from nurserymen. These collections are represented by different ecotypes of P. bifida subsp. stellaria, P. divaricata var. divaricata, P. maculata, P. subulata, and P. stolonifera. We also have a representation of species and cultivars that delineate the diversity of phlox in the trade including examples of P. paniculata, P. glaberrima, P. carolina, P. divaricata, and P. pilosa. We have also added to the collection of Lilium with the addition of Eastern USA (GA, NH, WV) native species such as L. superbum, L. canadense, and L. michauxii. These are only a few accessions at present but it is anticipated that the summer/autumn of 2010 will allow us to obtain more plants in this genus. In Coreopsis, we’ve acquired 27 new accessions of 12 different species as well as 10 cultivars obtained for use as commercial references in our characterization studies. In Rudbeckia, we’ve acquired 25 accessions of 5 species and 3 cultivars to be used as reference. Seventeen additional accessions have been added to our collection representing diverse genera such as Asclepias, Begonia, Gaillardia, Liatris, Lychnis, Oenothera, Penstemon, Tagetes, Thelesperma, Verbena and Viola. Additionally, we sent 46 accessions for back-up to the National Seed Storage Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colorado, contributed 50 accessions to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway, sowed 97 new accessions for regeneration in 2009 and completing the regeneration of 79 accessions within Baptisia, Coreopsis, Dianthus, Iris, Rudbeckia and Tagetes, conducted 156 tests for seed viability, completed 44 herbarium vouchers for reference, inactivated 162 accessions due to inviable material or inability to maintain the accession. Activity was monitored through site reciprocal site visits, face-to-face meetings at conferences, and frequent email communication.


Last Modified: 12/25/2014
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