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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Insect Pollination in the Regeneration of Germplasm at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station

Authors
item Clement, Stephen
item Hellier, Barbara
item Elberson, Leslie
item Bradley, Vicki
item Johnson, Richard

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2007
Publication Date: June 14, 2007
Citation: Clement, S.L., Hellier, B.C., Elberson, L.R., Bradley, V.L., Johnson, R.C. 2007. Insect Pollination in the Regeneration of Germplasm at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station. Proceedings 9th International Pollination Symposium on Plant-Pollinator Relationships, Diversity in Action. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. p. 62-63.

Interpretive Summary: One of the world's most diverse genebanks in terms of plant genera (681) and species (3132) maintained is the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System repository at Washington State University, known as the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station. Germplasm holdings at this gene bank number 76,000 accessions, and seed from these accessions is distributed to American and foreign scientists at an annual rate of 20,000 seed packets. Before these distributions lead to depleted seed stocks, curators establish seed-regeneration field nurseries to replenish stocks in the genebank. However, there is the risk of unintended hybridization and loss of genetic integrity if accessions of out-crossing species are clustered in nurseries. To prevent this from happening, curators use spatial isolation of accessions and field cages over plants with suitable insect pollinators. This research by entomologists, curators and agronomists identified the best and most cost effective insect pollinators for field cage pollination of Allium ampleloprasum and Lesquerella species. This review article also discusses the results of published research that demonstrated potential loss of genetic integrity of Astragalus and Onobrychis accessions in open-field nurseries inhabited by a rich bee fauna. The impact of this collective research by a team of research scientists and curators has been new seed-regeneration methods to maintain the genetic integrity of important insect-pollinated species at the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station.

Technical Abstract: Pollination research at the USDA-ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station, Pullman, Washington, has identified the best and most cost effective fly pollinators for field cage pollination of Allium and Lesquerella accessions. The bottle fly, Calliphora vicina, was superior to house fly, Musca domestica, for pollination and seed pollination of caged leek, Allium ampeloprasum, accessions. As well, these fly species were much cheaper to use (less than $300 per season) than honey bees, Apis mellifera ($2400 per season). Other research showed that field cages with house flies was a cost-effective method for controlled pollination of Lesquerella species. Additional research addressed the potential for inter-accession cross-pollination in Astragalus and Onobrychis nurseries supporting a rich diversity of Hymenoptera pollinators. These collective results have led to greater use of field cages with insect pollinators for seed-regeneration of Allium, Lesquerella, Astragalus, and Onobrychis accessions.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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