Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/31/2014
Publication Date: 3/1/2014
Citation: Olsen, R.T. 2014. Asian germplasm in American horticulture: new thoughts on an old theme. HortScience. 48:1073-1077.
Interpretive Summary: American horticulture is intimately connected to Asia, through the shared evolutionary paths of our respective native floras and enrichment of our cultivated floras through plant exploration and exchange. The continuity of this connection is assured, as there is an ongoing need to revisit, reintroduce, and reinvent our ornamental plants through the utilization of Asian germplasm whose flora is at once a storehouse and a driver of genetic diversity. Continued access to these genetic resources is now governed by international treaties, particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol, and updated plant quarantine regulations. The development of ornamental horticultural crops in both eastern Asia and North America involves shared threats as well as opportunities for our respective floras. Therefore, the recognition of the sovereign rights of countries to control access and benefits derived from utilization of their natural plant resources should be viewed as a prospect to foster more collaborative relationships.
Technical Abstract: North American horticulture cultivates an astonishing diversity of ornamental species, from nearly every floristic region, but its landscapes are dominated by temperate species drawn from the Eastern Asiatic floristic region. The East Asiatic floristic region is one of the most diverse in the world, with a high level of endemism across taxonomic ranks and ancient relics of a once widespread flora. From this, a large number of ornamental genera and species have been introduced, from either a long history of cultivation in Asia or directly from the wild, where they have since become fixtures in European and American gardens. The success of Asian germplasm in American horticulture is due, in part, to a shared evolutionary history, climate matching, and pre-adaptability. Continuing access to these genetic resources is now governed by international treaties, particularly the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol. Furthermore, updated plant quarantine regulations have added another hurdle to the importation of foreign plant genetic resources. The newly created category within USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Q37 regulations known as “not authorized pending pest risk analysis” (NAPPRA), restricts the import of plants that may harbor pests or become pests that affect American agriculture. To this end, scientists involved in the collection or utilization of Asian plant genetic resources are affected by recent changes in international and national laws.