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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Research Project #434355

Research Project: Conservation, Characterization, Evaluation of Temperate-Adapted Woody Landscape Plant Genetic Resources and Associated Data

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Project Number: 8020-21000-157-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 6, 2018
End Date: Mar 5, 2023

Objective 1: Efficiently and effectively acquire priority temperate-adapted woody landscape plant genetic resources; maintain their safety, genetic integrity, health and viability; and distribute them and associated information worldwide. [NP301, C2, PS2A; C1, PS1B] Sub-objective 1.a. Acquire samples and associated information of select taxa via exploration, contract collecting, and exchange. Targeted taxa include: Cladrastis kentukea, Viburnum species, Quercus species, Acer saccharum subsp. leucoderme and floridanum, Lindera benzoin, and Hamamelis ovalis. Sub-objective 1.b. Maintain and backup plant germplasm, including conduct germination tests on stored seed to determine viability of older germplasm; update seed collection and GRIN-Global database to reflect inventory; prioritize and regenerate or re-collect vulnerable accessions. Sub-objective 1.c. Distribute accessions and information that meet the specific needs of researchers, breeders, conservationists, nursery professionals, and other stakeholders. Objective 2: Develop more effective genetic resource maintenance, evaluation, and characterization methods and apply them to priority temperate-adapted woody landscape plant genetic resources. Record and disseminate evaluation and characterization data via GRIN-Global and other data sources. [NP301, C2, PS2A] Sub-objective 2.a. Develop and apply molecular markers for analysis of genetic diversity, taxonomic identity, and/or population structure for Tsuga chinensis and other priority taxa. Sub-objective 2.b. In collaboration with nurseries, botanic gardens, and university cooperators, evaluate horticultural merit of accessions collected under sub-objective 1.a and those already included in our living collections; disseminate information and superior germplasm or selections. Objective 3: With other NPGS genebanks, Crop Germplasm Committees, and customers/stakeholders, develop, update, document, and implement best management practices and a Crop Vulnerability Statement for temperate-adapted woody landscape plant genetic resource and information management. [NP301, C2, PS2A]

High-quality germplasm identified from in situ populations or ex situ collections will be acquired in the most efficient manner. For many acquisitions, this will be through germplasm requests, exchanges, and local collecting. Domestic collections for the eight taxa identified as priorities (Cladrastis kentukea, Viburnum, Quercus, Hamamilis ovalis, Lindera benzoin, Fagus grandifolia, Sassafras albidum, and Acer saccharum subsp. leucoderme and floridanum) will focus primarily on eastern North America. Our approach will be to collaborate with local experts including other scientists, botanists, and collectors. The number of species targeted and collection goals in each specific effort will depend in part on the extent of the collaborators’ involvement and ease of access to sites. We will use a contracted service for seed viability testing. Seed that is more than ten years old will be prioritized for viability testing based on the quality of passport data, its conservation status, and the number of requests received for that taxon. Seed that has no viability will be deaccessioned or inactivated following the NPGS Inactivation Guidelines developed by the PGOC. Seed will also be regenerated in-house or recollected. Seed from regenerated or collected accessions will be sent to the NCGRP in Ft. Collins for long-term backup. We will follow our established protocols for meeting distribution requests that come through GRIN-Global for accessions already in the system. We will also distribute seeds of newly acquired taxa to collaborators for conservation or evaluation. Basic passport data (taxonomic information, collection locations, dates) are maintained in GRIN-Global for each accession. We will supplement these data with evaluation and descriptive information and images from collaborative evaluation projects which will add value to the germplasm. To evaluate germplasm, we will use SSR markers to determine relationships among and diversity within accessions of Tsuga chinensis and Lindera benzoin. We will also evaluate the horticultural merit of germplasm accessions through collaborative agreements with several cooperators. Plants will be evaluated for various horticultural and production traits. Data will be collected after three years of field trials, and for two to five years subsequently, depending on the genus. In order to update and implement best management practices and a Crop Vulnerability Statement for germplasm, we will maintain and establish collaborations with WLPGR users and other stakeholders to ensure that the collections are relevant, well-curated, accessible, and effectively utilized. We will work with the Crop Germplasm Committee to develop a list of targeted genera or species which are most vulnerable or otherwise in need of conservation. We will also update our internal “Operations Manual”, which provides specific guidance on identification, collection, maintenance, distribution, and evaluation of germplasm specific to the WLPGR, and also addresses database management, invasiveness, staffing, equipment and facilities, the WLPCGC, and safeguarding germplasm.