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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant Introduction Research

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The long-term objectives of this project are to acquire, conserve, evaluate, characterize, document and distribute high-quality plant genetic resource (PGR) collections and associated information for research applications to support sustainable agricultural productivity. Objective 1: Strategically expand the genetic diversity in genebank collections and improve associated information for priority maize, oilseed, vegetable, pseudocereal, forage, woody ornamental, medicinal, bioenergy, and other specialty and industrial crop genetic resources. Objective 2: Conserve and regenerate priority maize, oilseed, vegetable, pseudocereal, forage, woody ornamental, medicinal, bioenergy, and other specialty and industrial crop genetic resources efficiently and effectively, and distribute pathogen-tested samples and associated information worldwide. Objective 3: Strategically characterize (“genotype”) and evaluate (“phenotype”) priority Zea (maize and wild relatives), Daucus, Helianthus, Coriandrum, Echinacea, Hypericum, and Melilotus genetic resources for molecular markers, morphological descriptors, taxonomic verification, and key agronomic or horticultural traits, such as maize starch content for bioenergy production. Objective 4: Develop superior information management software for optimally supporting the needs of genetic resource curators, researchers, breeders, and other users.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
To accomplish these objectives, USDA-ARS and ISU staff of the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) work collaboratively with the National Germplasm Research Laboratory (NGRL) to acquire and document germplasm in the Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) database, the National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation (NCGRP), and a wide array of researchers and genebank personnel in the U.S. and abroad. Expected outcomes from research and service activities include available, high-quality plant germplasm for distribution; documentation and transfer of evaluation and characterization information that enables targeting of PGR to meet research objectives; improved information management tools to support curatorial, research and other germplasm user-community needs.

3. Progress Report:
In 2013, a record 45,155 items of 18,811 unique accessions were distributed to 1,344 requestors (58% domestic, 42% international) by North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) staff. For the 5 year project, more than 130,000 accessions were distributed to more than 5,200 researchers, or about 16,000 unique accessions annually. 40-50% of these were maize, about 20% each of oilseeds and vegetables, and the rest were ornamentals and other crop species. Backup at the ARS facility in Ft. Collins, CO grew to 80% with 799 accessions in FY2013. From 2008-2013 the Ames ARS group provided over 5,000 accessions for backup at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Our capacity to regenerate accessions declined over the five years due to resource constraints, from 1200 to 759 accessions per year. Collection availability decreased from 75% to 73%, expected with valuable new material, high demand, and fewer regenerations. Over 90,000 trait descriptors were added to the Germplasm Information Resource Network (GRIN) database. Holdings grew from 49,971 to 52,123, or 4.3%. Of the 470 new accessions received in FY2013, 425 resulted from exploration and/or transfer within the National Plant Germplasm System. Oilseeds and ornamental curators actively collected wild sunflower, ash (Fraxinus, threatened by the invasive Emerald ash borer) and many other U.S. species. Kentucky Coffeetree was collected from the Midwest, and Kentucky; a Kentucky specimen was recognized as the largest in the state. ARS scientists provided germplasm of wild carrot and its relatives collected from Morocco and Tunisia to the Ames vegetable curator; these contribute to a multi-year collaboration to improve the taxonomy of Daucus and its relatives. Collecting descriptors and images on roots of field planted Daucus accessions is challenging because roots are often distorted or stunted due to soil conditions, or damaged by rodents. A wooden sand box in the greenhouse was used to grow roots until plants initiated bolting or up to 15 days before harvest for characterization and imaging. Roots were easily harvested from the sand beds without distortion or stunting. This method worked especially well for long, thin tap-root types. Aronia has the highest known antioxidant content of any temperate fruit, is sold as a functional food or nutraceutical and is also an ornamental landscape plant due to its tolerance to harsh environmental conditions and its attractive flowers, berries, and glossy leaves. Evaluations were conducted to identify superior strains for the landscape industry and for superior quality fruits for nutraceutical use. Over 240 observations of Aronia plots at the NCRPIS were loaded to GRIN, including flowering, fruit characteristics and quality, plant height, and fruit images. Findings from the genotypic and phenotypic characterization of the diversity of the 2800-member 'Ames panel' of maize inbred lines were used by the ARS maize curator to develop a MS SQL database of the relationship array of SNP data, and queries to compare similarity between lines. This can be used to enhance collection management, and by researchers to select germplasm to meet their objectives.

4. Accomplishments
1. Providing plant genetic resources for research and educational objectives. Access to well-documented plant genetic resources of known provenance is critical to the success of agricultural research and development objectives. Over the five year project period, more than 130,000 packets of seed or plants were distributed to more than 5,200 requestors from the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, IA, by its ARS and ISU staff, part of the National Plant Germplasm System. On average, over 16,000 unique accessions were provided each year. As research findings from use of germplasm are shared and more is known about the nature of its traits, properties, and genetics, the value of the germplasm for future research use is better understood. This is key to continued crop improvement.

2. Saving ash tree (Fraxinus) germplasm in advance of eradication by the Emerald Ash Borer. Millions of ash trees in the U.S. have died as a result of infestation by an invasive insect, the Emerald Ash Borer. American ash has no native resistance to the insect. When chestnut and elms were devastated by diseases, there were no coordinated efforts to save germplasm for future re-introduction, and the genepool was lost. Over the past decade, the ARS curator in Ames, IA has worked to save seeds of various ash species in advance of their eradication for future re-introduction. In FY 2013, seeds of Fraxinus quadrangulata (blue ash) were collected in Indiana and Illinois; blue ash seems to maintain its health longer than some other ash species. Like many crop germplasm collections, these collections provide valuable genetic resources for scientists to search for genetic resistance or insect control methods, or for future reintroduction of ash collections in their native range. Many sources of germplasm no longer exist, or are threatened by development and climate change, thus their preservation is critical to future germplasm access in order to support crop development to meet future challenges.

3. Publication of the analysis of maize inbred collection diversity. Understanding the inherent value and richness of a more than 20,500 member maize collection is challenging. In 2010-2011, a comprehensive phenotypic and genetic evaluation of more than 2700 maize inbred lines was completed by Ames and other ARS scientists. The analyses provide unique insights into the extent of diversity in public vs. commercially derived inbred lines, temperate vs. tropical inbreds, and inbreds classified as belonging to stiff-stalk or non stiff-stalk heterotic patterns. The phenotypic data, coupled with genomic information based on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), provide tools that can associate a trait with genomic information. The association can then be used to efficiently develop better products, and the understanding of relationships among lines enables improved collection management, and better targeting of germplasm to meet requestors' objectives.

4. Identification of Helianthus germplasm resistant to Sclerotinia stalk rot. Sclerotinia sclerotiorum causes Sclerotinia stalk rot of sunflowers, and significantly reduced crop production each year. The Ames ARS plant pathologist, the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station sunflower curator, and ARS colleagues at Fargo, ND have progressively tested and identified sources of resistance in wild sunflower accessions. While 60% plant survival is generally an indicator or a high level of resistance in their screening trials, six perennial species evaluated in 2012 showed remarkable resistance, with values in the 90-100% plant survival range. These materials can be used by sunflower breeders to develop new varieties with superior resistance to Sclerotinia stalk rot, enhancing production and income for producers, and also by basic researchers to investigate the genetic and physical basis of their strong resistance.

5. Accurate identification of seed-borne Pantoea stewartii. Stewart's wilt of maize, caused by Pantoea stewartii, is transmitted by flea beetle feeding, and causes leaf lesions followed by wilted areas. It can also be transmitted as a seed-borne pathogen at low frequencies. Many countries prohibit importation of maize seed infected with the Stewart's wilt organism, and require certification of disease-free seed. The Ames ARS Pathologist and Iowa State University (ISU) collaborators are evaluating use of PCR primers to differentiate between Pantoea stewartii and related organisms. This is important because switching from accepted, validated ELISA technology to PCR methodology that could give false positives should not be done. The team's efforts indicate that PCR primers do not sufficiently differentiate between P. stewartii and related organisms, with frequent false positive results. Their findings support accurate identification of seed-borne disease and phytosanitary standards for international seed movement.

Review Publications
Qiang, Z., Hauck, C., McCoy, J., Widrlechner, M.P., Reddy, M.B., Murphy, P.A., Hendrich, S. 2013. Echinacea sanguinea and Echinacea pallida extracts stimulate glucuronidation and basolateral transfer of Bauer alkamids 8 and 10 and ketone 24 and inhibit p-glycoprotein transporter in Caco-2 cells. Planta Medica. 79(03/04):266-274.

Barney, D.L., Bauer, M., Jensen, J. 2013. Survival, frost susceptibility, growth, and disease resistance of corkbark and subalpine fir grown for landscape and Christmas trees. HortTechnology. 23:194-200.

Berhow, M.A., Polat, U., Glinski, J.A., Glensk, M., Vaughn, S.F., Isbell, T., Ayala-Diaz, I., Marek, L., Gardner, C.A. 2013. Optimized analysis and quantification of glucosinolates from Camelina sativa seeds by reverse-phase liquid chromatography. Industrial Crops and Products. 43:119-125.

Romay, M.C., Millard, M.J., Glaubitz, J.C., Peiffer, J.A., Swarts, K.L., Casstevens, T.M., Elshire, R.J., Acharya, C.B., Mitchell, S.E., Flint Garcia, S.A., McMullen, M.D., Holland, J.B., Buckler IV, E.S., Gardner, C.A. 2013. Comprehensive genotyping of the US national maize inbred seed bank. Genome Biology. 14(6):1-18.

Agelet, L.E., Ellis, D.D., Duvick, S.A., Goggie, S., Hurburgh, C.R., Gardner, C.A. 2012. Feasibility of near infrared spectroscopy for analyzing corn kernel damage and viability of soybean and corn kernels. Journal of Cereal Science. 55:160-165.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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