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Research Project: Innovations that Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Managing and Preserving Ex Situ Plant Germplasm Collections

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Title: A strategy to conserve worldwide apple genetic resources: Survey results

Author
item Volk, Gayle
item BRAMEL, PAULA - Global Crop Diversity Trust

Submitted to: Acta Horticulturae
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2016
Publication Date: 10/17/2017
Citation: Volk, G.M., Bramel, P. 2017. A strategy to conserve worldwide apple genetic resources: Survey results. Acta Horticulturae. 1172:99-106 doi: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1172.18.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1172.18

Interpretive Summary: Apples are an important perennial crop that is expensive to produce, with high costs for land, labor, and inputs. Apple production is dominated by relatively few cultivars, which increases the potential of threats from new diseases, pests, and changing climate conditions. Many countries have national or institutional collections of apple cultivars and species that are often maintained in the field. These collections provide valuable materials for use in breeding programs worldwide. A Global Conservation Strategy for Apple is being developed to coordinate the conservation of apple collections throughout the world. Apple collection curators were surveyed to determine their collection’s conservation status, vulnerability, and use. Survey results revealed a broad range in collection sizes, vulnerability, back-up status, and documentation. Distribution policies varied greatly among collections, with some collections limited to distribution within their own countries, and others that are widely distributed at the international level. Overall, there is a strong willingness among collection curators to collaborate, share information, and to ensure that key materials in apple collections are safely conserved. The information from the surveys and the global conservation effort will be used to determine at-risk collections, to document materials, and to establish recommendations for improved management of apple collections. Access to this information will be valuable for management of the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System apple collection since it will provide opportunities to develop new collaborations to identify novel and desirable apple accessions that will be important for future breeding and research programs in the U.S.

Technical Abstract: Access to diverse apple (Malus) genetic resources is critical for future breeding efforts and improved production of this important tree fruit genus. Wild Malus species offer desirable sources of resistance to pathogens as well as tolerance to abiotic stress. Novel cultivars may have unique allelic combinations that provide adaptations to changing climatic patterns. Many countries have national or institutional collections of apple cultivars and species that are often maintained in the field. A Global Conservation Strategy for Apple is being developed to coordinate the conservation of apple genetic resources in genebanks. As part of this plan, apple collections worldwide were surveyed to determine their conservation status, vulnerability, and use. Survey results revealed a broad range in collection sizes, vulnerability, back-up status, and documentation. Distribution policies varied greatly among collections, with some collections limited to distribution within their own countries, and others that are widely distributed at the international level. Overall, there is a strong willingness among collection curators to collaborate, share information, and to ensure that global apple genetic resources are safely conserved. The information from the surveys will be used to determine at-risk collections, to document materials, and to establish genebank recommendations for improved management of apple genetic resources.