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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Ornamental Plant Germplasm Center

Location: Application Technology Research Unit

2011 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

Germplasm Acquisition and Documentation Activities: We have continued to expand our acquisition of germplasm of potential value to the industry. The largest expansion has been with accession in Phlox where we have increased our current collection to 240 accessions (a 2-fold increase over 2010). Approximately 40 accessions were collected in April throughout the Southeastern USA in an exploration program supported by the National Plant Germplasm System. We have also expanded our acquisition of Begonia, Coreopsis, Lilium, Rudbeckia and Viola among our priority genera. Presevation, Regeneration and Distribution of Germplasm: Viability testing continued with 44 accessions tested thus far and regeneration of 35 seed lines and 322 clonal lines. We made 75 distributions during the reporting period. Characterization and Evaluation: Various efforts at characterization and evaluation of germplasm have been made during this year. In Begonia, we have been exploring the production of seed within accessions both for long-term storage, but also production of large quantities of seed to initiate more fundamental studies on the biology of Begonia seeds. Issues such as desiccation tolerance, long-term viability, and enhanced germination treatments are in need of detailed examination. We’ve also begun to place our entire Begonia collection in vitro, for long-term storage and more efficient management. Documentation of self-compatibility and interspecific hybridization has also been initiated. In Coreopsis and Rudbeckia, we’ve continued with our second year of field characterization of most wild accessions and comparison to commercial cultivars in the trade. In Phlox, we’ve examined the cross-compatibility of different Eastern USA taxa by controlled pollinations. Each of the cross combinations is being assessed for frequency of hybrid formation. A field plot of various accessions has been planted at a local research farm in an effort to assess performance over multiple years. DNA has been isolated from 1/3 of the accessions to develop microsatellite markers for identification of parents and hybrids in interspecific crosses. One goal is to develop more disease-resistant germplasm. This research relates to the ARS parent project sub-objective 2a: evaluate the use of non-destructive sensor technology to measure and predict the impact of biotic and abiotic stresses in ornamental crops. Activity was monitored through site reciprocal site visits, face-to-face meetings at conferences, and frequent email communication.


Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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