Submitted to: Helia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 1995
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Wild sunflowers which are the ancestors of the modern cultivated sunflower are native to the U.S.. The ancestors of the sunflower 50 species. This is a very diverse group with 36 perennial and 14 annual species. Use of the wild species for the improvement of cultivated sunflower has been very successful in the past. Due to the large number of species, a team approach to find valuable characteristics in the many species is needed. International organization such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been active in the characterization and utilization of wild sunflowers. Participants of this group all share a common goal and that is to increase the genetic diversity of cultivated sunflower using wild species to make it a better global crop. Several new sources of disease resistance and female cytoplasm have been identified. The group has made significant progress in expanding our knowledge of wild species, but the job is a far from completion. It is through international cooperative efforts that we will be able to more rapidly improve the cultivated sunflower crop.
Technical Abstract: One goal of all sunflower researchers globally is to increase the genetic diversity of cultivated sunflower using the wild ancestors to make it a widely adapted crop. The Foreign Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) working group on the evaluation of wild sunflower species consists of 20 participants from 12 countries. This group serves as the international structure for research on the wild sunflower species. This group has reported it accomplishment in published reports and accumulated information into databases. Some of the recent accomplishments include explorations for additional populations in the U.S., Mexico, and Montenegro. New and improved methods have been developed for maintenance and seed increases. Effective methods to overcome dormancy and increased germination have also been discovered. A phylogeny and classification of Helianthus has been made using RAPDs. One area of considerable activity has been interspecific hybridization. Several new cytoplasms from the wild species and their respective fertility restoration genes have been discovered. Several new sources of disease resistance to some of the more common diseases have been discovered. The group has made significant progress in expanding the knowledge base about wild sunflower, but the job is a far from completion.