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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant Introduction Research

2012 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:
This is the fifth progress report of Project 3625-21000-053-00D, initiated 04/14/2008. Many activities are seasonal and overlap fiscal years. Unseasonably warm March weather encouraged early planting, but brought a record influx of leaf hoppers which vectored Aster Yellows disease, and various mycoplasma and viral diseases. This negatively impacted vegetable and Brassica increases, and the Daucus taxonomy characterization plantings. Record hot, dry weather necessitated use of all irrigation resources available; sunflower plantings were irrigated for the first time in history. Pollination quality will be poor and seed set affected. A severe storm damaged several sunflower cages and caused some root lodging. For this reporting period, 717 regeneration attempts were made for accessions of maize, vegetables, ornamentals and other crops; 963 were harvested (2011 plantings); about 3% of collection holdings were tested for viability; 792 accessions were backed up at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO and 354 at Svalbard, Norway. Over 40,200 crop data descriptors were loaded to the GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) system pertaining to 7,266 accessions, and 1,519 images captured. Cryogenic storage protocols for Fraxinus (ash) buds, developed and implemented by the NCGRP can now be used routinely, as for Salix. The ability to store buds for future use is critical if ash trees threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer cannot be maintained in the field. Web-based publication of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map was completed in collaboration with SCA collaborators at Oregon State University; peer-reviewed publications are now available. Evaluation data are being collected for 2012 increases and observation plantings. Wild Helianthus was evaluated for resistance to Sclerotinia rot – 250 accessions were tested in the greenhouse and 25 advanced to field trials at two locations. Collaborative Daucus characterization and taxonomic field was damaged. All available maize inbreds (about 2750) were evaluated phenotypically in 2010 in Ames, IA, Raleigh, NC, Columbia, MO, and Ithaca, NY, and again in Ames in 2011. Tissue samples were genetically characterized via SNP analysis by collaborators, association analyses completed, and publicly presented. Aronia accessions are being evaluated for yield and flavor components. Seed requests for calendar year 2011 set another record; 38,402 items of 18,634 unique accessions were distributed to 1180 requestors, 46% international and 54% domestic. Maize comprised 34% of all orders; the association panel of inbred lines and lines with recently expired plant variety protection certificates are popular. Vegetables and oilseeds each comprised about 20% of all distributions. Amaranth, setaria, quinoa, and woody ornamentals comprise remaining distributions. 2012 orders will surpass 2011's. Version 1.0 of GRIN-Global, developed to replace the GRIN system, was released internationally in December, 2011, and is being implemented by three major genebanks. The U.S. NPGS is conducting gap analysis activities prior to implementation.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Trapp II, A., Dixon, P., Widrlechner, M.P., Kovach, D.A. 2012. Scheduling viability tests for seeds in long-term storage based on a Bayesian Multi-Level Model. Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Statistics. 17(2):192-208. Available online at

Zhang, X., Rizshsky, L., Hauck, C., Qu, L., Widrlechner, M.P., Nikolau, B.J., Murphy, P.A., Birt, D.F. 2012. Bauer ketones 23 and 24 from Echinacea paradoxa var. paradoxa inhibit lipopolysaccharide-induced nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2 and cytokines in RAW 264.7 mouse macrophages. Phytochemistry. 74:146-158.

Qiang, Z., Zhong, Y., Hauck, C., Murphy, P., McCoy, J., Widrlechner, M.P., Reddy, M., Hendrich, S. 2011. Permeability of rosmarinic acid in Prunella vulgaris and ursolic acid in Salvia officinalis extracts across Caco-2 cell monolayers. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 137(3):1107-1112. Available:

Lebeda, A., Doležalová, I., Kitner, M., Novotná, A., Šmachová, P., Widrlechner, M.P. 2012. North American Continent – A new source of wild Lactuca spp. germplasm variability for future lettuce breeding. Acta Horticulturae. 918:475-482.

Ramasahayam, S., Baraka, H.N., Abdel Bar, F.M., Widrlechner, M.P., El Sayed, K.A., Meyer, S.A. 2011. Effects of chemically characterized fractions from aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea and E. angustifolia on Myelopoiesis in Rats. Planta Medica. 77:1883-1889. Available online at

Qu, L., Widrlechner, M.P. 2011. Reduction of seed dormancy in Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt. by in-dark seed selection and breeding. Industrial Crops and Products. 36(1):88-93.

Daly, C., Widrlechner, M.P., Halbleib, M.D., Smith, J.I. 2012. Development of a new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for the United States. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 51:242-264. Available:

Widrlechner, M.P., Daly, C., Keller, M., Kaplan, J.S. 2012. Horticultural applications of a newly revised USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. HortTechnology. 22(1):6-19.

Kapler, E.J., Thompson, J.R., Widrlechner, M.P. 2012. Assessing stakeholder perspectives on invasive plants to inform risk analysis. Journal of Invasive Plant Science and Management. 5(2):194-208.

Kapler, E.J., Widrlechner, M.P., Dixon, P.M., Thompson, J.R. 2012. Performance of five models to predict the naturalization of non-native woody plants in Iowa. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. 30:35-41.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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