Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Geneva, New York » Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) » Research » Research Project #443957

Research Project: Management and Development of Apple, Cold-Hardy Grape, and Tart Cherry Genetic Resources and Associated Information

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU)

Project Number: 8060-21000-032-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 6, 2023
End Date: Mar 5, 2028

Objective 1: Conduct research to develop genetic resource maintenance, evaluation, or characterization methods and, in alignment with the overall NPGS Plan, apply them to priority apple, grape, and tart cherry genetic resources to avoid backlogs in plant genetic resource and information management, and to support genetic enhancement of apple and grape. Sub-objective 1.A: Investigate the applicability of orchard and vineyard management systems, which include integrated pest management practices, for modernizing and improving maintenance of priority apple, grape, and tart cherry genetic resources. Sub-objective 1.B: Develop or adapt existing and emerging genotypic and phenotypic methods to characterize and evaluate genetic resources for priority traits and to support identification and development of superior breeding lines and populations possessing priority traits for genetic enhancement of apple and grape. Sub-objective 1.C: Update and expand standard operating procedures to decrease backlogs in germplasm maintenance, characterization, and data management, including backup preservation, pathogen screening, and upload of genetic markers and other relevant information to public repositories. Objective 2: Acquire, distribute, and maintain the safety, genetic integrity, health, and viability of priority apple, grape, and tart cherry genetic resources and associated descriptive information. Sub-objective 2.A: Identify and fill genetic diversity gaps by acquiring new genetic resources of apple, grape, and tart cherry through exchanges and explorations, and restoring priority genetic resources through regeneration or reintroduction. Sub-objective 2.B: Develop and implement crop-specific plans for backup preservation including seed conservation of crop wild relatives (CWR) and cryopreservation of priority accessions. Sub-objective 2.C: Identify bottlenecks and improve processes in genetic resource distribution and management of descriptive information for apple, grape, and tart cherry genetic resources by updating and expanding standard procedures and collaborating closely with other NPGS genebanks, Crop Germplasm Committees, GRIN-Global, and other stakeholders.

The interconnected objectives above aim to improve the health and accessibility of the apple, grape, and tart cherry collections maintained by The Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU). Above all else, maintenance of healthy trees and vines is paramount to PGRU’s mission. IPM practices for apple, grape, and tart cherry will be implemented following updated guidance specific to New York State. This includes monitoring for known and emerging pests, utilization of modeling systems for pesticide application timings, soil testing and planting cover crops for appropriate erosion and nutrient control, management of weeds and vertebrate pests (including chemical and non-chemical controls), and crop growing systems. Adoption of modern orchard and vineyard systems would improve our capacity to safeguard our genetic resources and ensure future growth. Diverse genetic resources serve as the basis for genetic improvement, with comprehensive evaluation and documentation acting as limiting factors for utilization. As such PGRU will focus on collecting data for key traits of interest for customers, including fruit quality, cold-hardy adaptations, disease resistance, and genetic characterization of key traits for apple and grape breeding. Results from this effort will also identify germplasm with unique traits and desirable allele combinations to support genetic enhancement. Gaps will also be identified in connection with genotyping and phenotyping efforts as we identify missing genotype combinations or unique phenotypic variants. Collection gaps may also be identified by reviewing taxonomic representation, geographic distribution, or missing allelic or phenotypic variation. Key backlogs identified in the NPGS Plan for the PGRU collections include propagation/regeneration and backup preservation of germplasm, pathogen screening, and deposition of relevant information into GRIN-Global. New approaches will be explored to update and expand standard operating procedures (SOPs) to effectively decrease these backlogs. Virus testing of priority germplasm will help identify well characterized accessions which meet phytosanitary conditions and can be readily distributed. Finally, long-term storage of biological material through cryopreservation provides a way to preserve clonal material free from environmental pressures and serves as a backup to replace field accessions lost to disease or catastrophic events.