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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Exploration for wild Helianthus species from the desert southwestern USA for potential drought tolerance

Authors
item Seiler, Gerald
item Gulya Jr, Thomas
item Marek, Laura - IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Helia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 5, 2006
Publication Date: December 15, 2006
Citation: Seiler, G.J., Gulya, T.J., Marek, L.F. 2006. Exploration for wild Helianthus species from the desert southwestern USA for potential drought tolerance. Helia. 29(45):1-10.

Interpretive Summary: The sunflower genus Helianthus comprises 51 species (14 annual and 37 perennial), all native to North America. The ability of some sunflower species to survive and thrive in shifting sand dunes with an annual precipitation of 2 inches could be of value for cultivated sunflower, a crop often grown in arid areas. The narrow genetic base of cultivated sunflower has been broadened by the infusion of genes from the wild species, which have provided a continued source of agronomic traits for crop improvement. Unusually high fall and winter rainfalls, in some desert southwest areas up to five times normal precipitation, produced a desert flora not observed for many years, affording us the rare opportunity to collect desert sunflowers during the winter of 2005. The objectives of this study were to collect seeds (>2,000 seeds per population) from as many populations as possible of desert species, specifically annual sand sunflower, desert sunflower, gray desert sunflower, and perennial dune sunflower from the desert southwestern USA and make them available for future research and improvement of cultivated sunflower. The first exploration for sand and desert sunflower took place from September 16 to 23, 2000, covering 2550 miles in three states, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada; while the second exploration for desert sunflower concentrated on populations in west central Nevada, taking place between June 20 to 23 and August 15 to 18, 2005. The third exploration for gray desert sunflower took place from February 26 through March 5, 2005, covering 1350 miles in southern California and adjacent Arizona. Only one population of desert sunflower and two populations of sand sunflower from Utah were collected in 2000. The 2005 exploration in Nevada resulted in the collection of seeds from 13 populations of desert sunflower. In 2005, five populations of dune sunflower were collected from the Alogodones Dunes in California. One population of gray desert sunflower was collected from Yuma, Arizona, near the US-Mexico border, with three additional populations collected from the Pinta Sands area of Arizona, which is the northernmost extension of the Gran Desierto of Sonora, Mexico. The seed samples have been deposited at the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System, North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa, where they are maintained and distributed. Seed of this germplasm can be requested through the USDA-ARS NPGS GRIN system at http://www.ars-grin.gov. The limited number of desert species populations collected will provide a starting point for further research dealing with improving drought tolerance in cultivated sunflower.

Technical Abstract: The ability of some sunflower species to survive and thrive in shifting sand dunes with an annual precipitation of 50 mm could be of value for cultivated sunflower, a crop often grown in arid regions. The genus Helianthus comprises 51 species and 19 subspecies, with 14 annual and 37 perennial species, all native to North America. The objective of this study was to collect achenes from as many populations as possible of desert species, specifically annual H. anomalus, H. deserticola, H. niveus subspecies canescens, and perennial H. niveus subspecies tephrodes from the desert southwestern USA and make them available for future research and improvement of cultivated sunflower. The first exploration for H. anomalus and H. deserticola took place from September 16 to 23, 2000, covering 4100 km in three states, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada; while the second exploration concentrated on H. deserticola populations in west central Nevada, taking place between June 20 to 23 and August 15 to 18, 2005. The third exploration for H. niveus subspecies tephrodes took place from February 26 through March 5, 2005, covering 2200 km in southern California and adjacent Arizona. Only one population of H. deserticola from Utah and two populations of H. anomalus from Utah were collected in 2000. The 2005 exploration in Nevada resulted in the collection of achenes from 13 populations of H. deserticola. In 2005, five populations of H. niveus subspecies tephrodes were collected from the Alogodones Dunes in California. One population of H. niveus subspecies canescens was collected from Yuma, Arizona, near the US-Mexico border, with three additional populations collected from the Pinta Sands area of Arizona, which is the northernmost extension of the Gran Desierto of Sonora, Mexico. Achene samples of each collection are maintained and distributed from the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System, North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station, Ames, Iowa. The limited number of desert species populations collected will provide basic germplasm for further research dealing with improving drought tolerance in cultivated sunflower.

Last Modified: 10/25/2014
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