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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUNFLOWER GERMPLASM DIVERSIFICATION AND CHARACTERIZATION UTILIZING WILD SUNFLOWER SPECIES, CYTOGENETICS, AND APPLIED GENOMICS

Location: Sunflower Research

Title: Germplasm resources for increasing the genetic diversity of global cultivated sunflower

Authors
item Seiler, Gerald
item Marek, Laura -

Submitted to: Helia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 10, 2011
Publication Date: July 16, 2012
Citation: Seiler, G.J., Marek, L.F. 2011. Germplasm resources for increasing the genetic diversity of global cultivated sunflower. Helia. 34(55):1-20.

Interpretive Summary: Genetic resources are the biological basis of global food security. Preservation of cultivars, landraces, and wild relatives of important crop species provides the basic foundation for sustainable productive agriculture. Genebanks are a rich source of genetic diversity that can be readily exploited for crop improvement. The USDA-ARS established a cultivated sunflower germplasm collection at the National Plant Germplasm System, North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station at Ames, Iowa in 1948. A wild Helianthus germplasm collection was established at the USDA-ARS, Bushland, Texas station in 1976. Presently, both collections are now located at Ames, Iowa. The genus Helianthus consists of 52 species and 19 subspecies, with 14 annual and 38 perennial species. Over 30 explorations in the past 35 years have resulted in the assemblage of a wild sunflower collection that is the most complete in the world. Currently, both collections contain 4087 accessions, with 1886 cultivated and 2201 wild accessions of which 1359 accessions are annual and 842 are perennial species. This germplasm will be important in the future as a genetic resource to combat emerging pests and environmental challenges, helping to maintain sunflower as a viable major global oilseed crop. Significant progress has been made in collecting and preserving wild species, increasing the genetic diversity available for sunflower improvement. Thus far, only a small portion of the available diversity has been exploited. Unlocking the full potential of sunflower germplasm collections, however, requires an understanding of the amount and distribution of genetic variation contained within them. The future collection, preservation, and utilization of sunflower genetic resources face several challenges. The biggest challenge is the decrease in funding to maintain the current collections due to the lack of commitment of countries supporting genetic resources conservation and discovery of new traits from existing germplasm. Free and open exchange of germplasm has drastically decreased during the past decade. This will impact the flow of germplasm between researchers, which in the past has been extremely beneficial for a global sunflower community working to maintain sunflower as a viable major global oilseed crop and preserve it for future generations.

Technical Abstract: Genebanks are a rich source of genetic diversity that can be readily exploited for crop improvement. The USDA-ARS established a cultivated sunflower germplasm collection at the National Plant Germplasm System, North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station at Ames, Iowa in1948. A wild Helianthus germplasm collection was established at the USDA-ARS Bushland, Texas station in 1976. Presently, both collections are maintained and managed at Ames, Iowa. The genus Helianthus consists of 52 species and 19 subspecies, with 14 annual and 38 perennial species. Over 30 explorations in the past 35 years have resulted in the assemblage of a wild sunflower collection that is the most complete in the world. Currently, the sunflower collections contain 4087 accessions: 1886 cultivated H. annuus accessions and 2201 wild accessions of which 1359 accessions are annual and 842 are perennial species. This germplasm is an important current and future genetic resource to combat emerging pests and environmental challenges, helping to maintain sunflower as a viable major global oilseed crop and preserve it for future generations.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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