Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/27/2004
Publication Date: 4/1/2005
Citation: Simon, P.W. 2005. Realizing value from Central Asian Allium germplasm collections. HortScience. 40:309-310. Interpretive Summary: Garlic and onion are valuable crops which originally only were found in Central Asia. Access to plants of these original populations is valuable to researchers improving the production and quality of these crops. In 1989 we collected plants of these original populations. This report documents the use of these collections, which is of interest to garlic and onion breeding companies, public researchers and growers.
Technical Abstract: Central Asia is the center of origin for many Allium species and a rich genetic source of wild relatives of onion and garlic. For this reason germplasm collections of cultivated Alliums have targeted the acquisition of seed and bulb samples from this region, and several plant expeditions from Asia, Europe, and North America have collected Allium germplasm in Central Asia. Central Asian Allium germplasm has been valuable both as raw materials for scientific research leading to published data, and as starting materials for genetic improvement of the crop. Utilizing this germplasm it has been possible to improve garlic so it can be bred like other seed-propagated crops. Several interspecific crosses have been made between onion and other Central Asian wild relatives and these crosses have yielded useful traits for onion improvement. Allium germplasm from this region has also been important in elucidating the systematics and origins of diversity in onion and garlic. By any of these measures, Central Asian Allium collections have been valuable. Challenges and successes in collecting, maintaining, evaluating, and utilizing these collections remain.