Location: Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU)2018 Annual Report
The long-term overall objectives of this project are to acquire and conserve a broad spectrum of genetic diversity of apples (Malus), cold-hardy grapes (Vitis) and tart cherries (Prunus), to characterize and distribute these genetic resources and associated information to breeders and others for research and crop improvement, and to increase public awareness of the value of these crop genetic resources. During this project period, our objectives are as follows: Objective 1: Efficiently and effectively acquire apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources, maintain their safety, genetic integrity, health and viability, and distribute them and associated information worldwide. [NP301, C2, PS2A; C1, PS1A] Sub-objective 1.A.: Conserve, back up, regenerate, and distribute apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources and associated information. Sub-objective 1.B.: Acquire apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources through exploration, collection, and/or exchange to fill the gaps in the collections. Objective 2: Develop more effective genetic resource characterization and evaluation (especially for phenotyping trees and vines) methods and applying them to priority apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources. Record and disseminate characterization and evaluation data via GRIN-Global and other data sources. [NP301, C2, PS2A; C1, PS1A] Sub-objective 2.A.: Characterize and evaluate key morphological, horticultural, genetic, and biochemical attributes of apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources. Record all the characterization and evaluation data via GRIN-Global and other databases. Sub-objective 2.B.: Develop or adapt new methods and apply them for characterizing priority apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources. Objective 3: Work with other NPGS gene banks and Crop Germplasm Committees to develop, update, document, and implement curatorial best management practices and Crop Vulnerability Statements for apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources and information management. [NP301, C2, PS2A] Sub-objective 3.A.: Work with other clonal repositories to develop and implement best management practices for apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources. Sub-objective 3.B.: Update the Crop Vulnerability Statements of apple, grape, and Prunus (tart cherry).
To accomplish the objectives above, effective project planning, implementation and management are required. Innovative and sustained scientific efforts are needed to provide scientific foundation for better managing the germplasm resources and making the resources and associated information readily available to the users. To meet Objective 1, we will maintain the collection in a good healthy condition through effective field cultivation, cryopreservation and seed storage; we will continue to increase the back-up coverage of the Malus and tart cherry collection using cryopreservation and other methods in collaboration with the National Center for Germplasm Resources Preservation (NCGRP); information about accessions will be made available in easily understandable and accessible formats via GRIN-Global; we will regenerate and distribute our collections and associated information timely and effectively; we will continue filling collection gaps through germplasm exploration and exchanges. Vitis and Malus will be our primary foci. To meet Objective 2, we will characterize and evaluate key morphological, horticultural, genetic, and biochemical attributes of apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources; we will record all the characterization and evaluation data via GRIN-Global and other databases; we will continue collecting basic Malus and Vitis descriptor information such as fruit size and cluster attributes; we will work with collaborators to evlaute our Malus collection for hard cider characteristics; we will determine polidy levels of selected Malus accessions; and we will evelop or adapt new methods, such as aerial phenotyping and new virus testing technologies, and apply them for characterizing priority apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources. To meet Objective 3, we will work closely with other clonal repositories to develop and implement best management practices for apple, cold-hardy grape, and tart cherry genetic resources and will update the Crop Vulnerability Statements of apple, grape, and Prunus (tart cherry). In addition, we will enhance the germplasm management effectiveness and utilization efficiencies by characterizing and evaluating the collection through various genetic and molecular approaches. We will work closely with Crop Germplasm Committees to implement the priorities they define for collection and evaluation. The major impact of the project is to preserve genetic resources of apples, grapes, and tart cherries for future improvement of these crops worldwide.
ARS researchers in Geneva, New York, continued to work with the National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (NLGRP), Fort Collins, Colorado for cryo backup storage of Plant Genetic Resource Unit (PGRU) clonal germplasm. Recently, cryopreservation methodologies for Vitis were developed by NLGRP, and we are consulting with NLGRP to determine implementation and prioritization for the cold-hardy grape collection. We bagged 41 Malus accessions to collect apomictic seeds for extraction and preservation. An exploration for M. coronaria in Ohio is scheduled for late August 2018. An exploration for Malus doumeri in Vietnam has been arranged for the fall of 2018 through a joint effort between NLGRP, PGRU, and the Division of Genebank Management, Plant Resources Center (PRC), Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) in Hanoi, Vietnam. An exploration to collect M. angustifolia and M. coronaria in Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas in 2019 was submitted to Plant Exchange Office, National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. We are selecting accessions to evaluate for cider quality and general descriptors. We developed a protocol to record Malus descriptor data electronically to facilitate data processing. GBS (genotype by sequencing) data for hybrid grapevines was analyzed and samples with poor quality were collected for reprocessing. Additionally, we established a standard protocol to evaluate cluster diversity in grapes. Finally, the tart cherry collection was evaluated for antioxidant content in fruit samples over three seasons. To evaluate flowering time in the apple collection, we used aerial photography and image analysis, in collaboration with USDA-ARS Northeast Area statisticians. This season, we determined flight and camera parameters, established field markers, and explored analysis software to record flowering time for the complete apple collection in 2019. Utilization of these technologies will enhance our capacity to evaluate collections as a whole. Crop Vulnerability Statement (CVS) of Prunus was updated by Prunus CGC (Cancer Genomics Consortium) in June 2018. PGRU participated in updating the tart cherry portion of the CVS. An in-person Apple CGC meeting is scheduled for September 12, 2018 in Geneva, New York. Updating the Apple CVS will be discussed. We are discussing updates to the Vitis CVS with the Grape CGC.
1. Critical clonal crop germplasm was maintained. Preservation and availability of healthy genetic resources to breeders and researchers is critical to crop improvement. ARS researchers in Geneva, New York, maintained 8,313 accessions of apples, cold-hardy grapes and tart cherries. This effort ensures the longevity and future availability of these genetic resources.
2. Distribution of budwood germplsm. In 2017, PGRU distributed 7,074 samples (including: dormant budwood, leaf, fruit, pollen, seed and DNA) from 428 orders. The average number of orders and samples distributed over the past five years was 405 and 7,215, respectively. Our records for 2018 further indicate a consistent increase in orders and samples distributed. The samples distributed supported research and breeding efforts for apple, grapes, and tart cherry, and provided the genetic diversity necessary for future crop improvement.