Submitted to: Foreign Agriculture Organization Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 3, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Sunflower is one of the few crops native to the U.S. It is proposed to have originated from the central to southwest U.S. Having the ancestors of the present day cultivated sunflower accessible within the boundaries of the U.S. allows the collection and utilization of these wild progenitors for the improvement of the cultivated sunflower. Since there are 50 wild species with considerable genetic variability, the task of finding desirable characteristics in this diversity is a difficult task. There is global interest in the utilization of the wild sunflower species to improve cultivated sunflower. Such activities are coordinated through the Foreign Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is through organizations such as FAO that the sunflower industry benefits from the numerous countries which participate in the wild species network. This divides the enormous task and has been very successful in evaluating a considerable number of wild sunflower populations for various agronomic and economic characteristics. It is through international cooperative efforts that we will be able to make more rapid improvement in the sunflower crop.
Technical Abstract: 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. Participants of the working group all share a common goal and that is to increase the genetic diversity of cultivated sunflower using wild species to make it a widely adapted global crop. The group's accomplishments have added considerable knowledge to the informational database about wild species and their potential use. USDA-ARS participants have been active in the collection of additional populations of wild sunflower from Canada. Additional information has been obtained about the seed weevil and associated parasitoids. New information has been reported using scarification techniques to increase germination by using gibberellic acid dissolved in acetone as a pre- germination primer. One area of considerable activity has been interspecific hybridization. Interspecific germplasms evaluated for early root growth appear to have sufficient variability for genetic selection. Progress has been made on evaluating additional wild populations for fertility restoration genes for cytoplasmic male sterility. The participants have made significant progress in expanding our knowledge of the wild species, but the task is not finished by any means.