Submitted to: Public Garden
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2011
Publication Date: 9/15/2011
Citation: Widrlechner, M.P. 2011. Mobilizing resources to conserve Ash species in response to Emerald Ash Borer. Public Garden. 26(Summer): 27-29.
Technical Abstract: This paper briefly discusses the genus Fraxinus (ash), focusing on six ash species in Eastern North America, some of their specialized uses, and their role in supporting other organisms. The devastation caused to native, North American ash populations by the introduction of Agrilus planipennis (emerald ash borer; EAB) to southeastern Michigan has already led to the loss of tens of millions of trees, with billions more at threat. Diverse efforts are underway to document and slow EAB's spread and develop appropriate biological controls. Scientific research on ash-EAB interactions, the breeding of resistant ash trees, and eventual reintroduction of native ash would all benefit from access to well-documented, diverse ash germplasm. To help redress this unfolding biological tragedy, a collaborative, international effort to conserve these important genetic resources has been organized. Fortunately, ash is amenable to ex situ conservation through seed storage and cryogenic storage of dormant winter buds, so extensive work is underway to collect seeds from native ash populations before they are destroyed by EAB. Key partners in this effort are described herein, with a focus on the coordinating organization, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service's National Plant Germplasm System, along with a summary of progress to date, future plans, and the roles that public gardens can play to contribute to this work.