Location: National Germplasm Resources
Title: Identifying wild relatives of subtropical and temperate fruit and nut crops Authors
Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 9, 2011
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
Citation: Wiersema, J.H., Leon, B., Garvey, E.J. 2012. Identifying wild relatives of subtropical and temperate fruit and nut crops. Acta Horticulturae. 948:285-288. Interpretive Summary: All of the fruits and nuts that form an important part of the American diet originally came from wild plants, most of which still survive in natural habitats around the world. These wild relatives of fruit and nut crops remain a critical source of genes that can be tapped to overcome disease or pest problems in fruits and nuts, or to improve them in other ways. However, for various reasons the places where many of these wild relatives are found are gradually being destroyed, along with the plants that grow there. To help save these wild relatives we must first determine what they are, where they are, and which ones are the most important to conserve. The Plant Exchange Office of the Agricultural Research Service of USDA in 2008 began a project to get this information for all important U.S. crops, including fruits and nuts. The wild relatives of most grain and many vegetable crops have already been identified, and work has now begun identifying the fruit and nut crop relatives. When the project is completed the information created will help us preserve these plants and their genes for use by future generations.
Technical Abstract: In 2008 the Plant Exchange Office (PEO) of the Agricultural Research Service began a concentrated effort to identify, classify, and provide a full treatment in the taxonomy area of the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) for all primary, secondary, and tertiary genetic wild relatives (CWR) of the major and minor crops represented in the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). This ongoing project aims to provide an information tool useful to PEO and others in NPGS to assist in evaluating germplasm needs and assessing acquisition opportunities. With an initial focus on major agronomic and vegetable crops in the U.S.A., some 50 of which have been completed to date, we have recently turned our attention to fruit and nut crops. This created the need to identify graft-stock relatives as well. A discussion of the assumptions underlying this classification and our methodology for identifying and documenting CWR of various crops is provided. Online access to our data will soon be available to allow GRIN Taxonomy users to review our results. A web form currently provides the capability for NPGS workers to query crop relatives by crop name, taxonomy, genetic relative status, geographical distribution, and NPGS germplasm site.