Submitted to: National Symposium - New Crops
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2002
Publication Date: 3/15/2002
Citation: WIDRLECHNER, M.P., MCKEOWN, K.A. ASSEMBLING AND CHARACTERIZING A COMPREHENSIVE ECHINACEA GERMPLASM COLLECTION. JANICK, J., WHIPKEY, A. EDITORS. ASHS PRESS, ALEXANDRIA, VA. TRENDS IN NEW CROPS AND NEW USES. NATIONAL SYMPOSIUM - NEW CROPS. 2002. P. 506-508.
Technical Abstract: Echinacea's popularity as a dietary supplement grew rapidly once the general public learned of its possible efficacy in fighting colds and other illnesses. In response, researchers increased their efforts to understand the pharmacology, cultivation, and biology of Echinacea. But very few well-documented living collections of Echinacea were available to support that research. To fill that gap, the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) began assembling samples of Echinacea populations from throughout their North American range, and now conserves over 130 different wild populations, including all known taxa. In 1999, the NCRPIS began regenerating these populations, both to conserve them (often threatened in nature by over-harvesting) and to make seeds available for research. We cultivated each population within a screened cage with honeybee pollinators to produce control-pollinated seed. In 2000, sufficient seed was harvested to allow the distribution of more than 80 populations. In addition, notes and measurements were taken on these plants for a wide range of morphological descriptors, and taxonomic identities were verified. These data will be included in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database, located on the Internet at http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs. To help elucidate the genetic basis of Echinacea's morphological and biochemical variation, analyses of geographic patterns of variation in the non-coding region of the Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase locus and in Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphisms are planned. This will generate a large set of genetic markers, to be used for calculating genetic distances, quantifying overall levels of diversity and fine-scale genetic mapping.