Submitted to: Plant Breeding Reviews
Publication Type: Literature review
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/12/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Populations of common bulb onion spread from Asia to Europe and were introduced to the United States by European immigrants and by trade with European countries. Farmers maintained these introductions as open-pollinated populations for approximately three centuries before the United States Department of Agriculture initiated a dedicated scientific program of onion improvement. Virtually all of the onion germplasm developed in the United States has its origin in Europe. Introduction of onion germplasm to this country occurred during two primary periods: the early 17th century arrival of English Puritans, and the 19th century arrival of immigrants from southern European countries such as Spain and Italy. Storage onion germplasm was introduced during the former period, while Grano and Spanish germplasm were introduced during the latter. Although some information about the founding onion populations in the United States has been collected (Magruder et al. 1941), no systematic study of their relationships has been published. A proliferation of cultivar names during the 19th century during the early growth of the vegetable seed industry (Tracy 1903) led to much confusion about the genetic relationships among open-pollinated populations. One of the primary obejctives of this review is to clarify relationships among onion populations and germplasm accessions used in U.S. onion breeding during the 20th century.