Location: Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU)Title: Preserving the future with the USDA Plant Genetic Resource Unit tart cherry, grape, and apple germplasm collections
Submitted to: Journal of American Pomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/5/2020
Publication Date: 4/1/2020
Citation: Gutierrez, B.L., Battaglia, K., Zhong, G. 2020. Preserving the future with the USDA Plant Genetic Resource Unit tart cherry, grape, and apple germplasm collections. Journal of American Pomological Society. http://www.pubhort.org/aps/74/v74_n2_a4.htm.
Interpretive Summary: Preservation of crop genetic diversity is critical for the future of American agriculture. The USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) at Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY preserves collections of apples, cold-hardy grapes, and tart cherries, and their wild relatives. We maintain, acquire, distribute, and conduct research to support and promote the use of these collections. Because each tree and vine is unique, clonal propagation is used to preserve cultivar and type specimens. We highlight the value of our collections, and how they can promote sustainability for the US apple, grape, and tart cherry industries.
Technical Abstract: The USDA-ARS Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) at Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY is the home of the apple, cold-hardy grape and tart cherry germplasm collections of the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). PGRU maintains 7,101 Malus, 1,405 Vitis and 130 Prunus accessions and provides curatorial service for the maintenance, acquisition, distribution, characterization, and research of these critical genetic resources. We use conventional field planting, seed storage, and cryo-preservation of budwood and pollen to maintain and ensure the long-term safety of the collections. For acquisition, we import rare varieties, such as cider apples from Northern Spain and England, carry out domestic and international explorations of crop wild relatives, and select permanent accessions through genetic analysis and trait evaluation of seedlings of wild species. In 2018, PGRU distributed 8,197 samples, including cuttings/scions, pollen, flowers, leaves, DNA, fruit, and seed based on a record 540 requests. PGRU records descriptors and images for each accession, evaluates fruit quality and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses, adopts new phenotyping methods, and establishes genetic markers to study diversity, relationships among accessions and map traits of interest. All accession information is added to the GRIN-Global database. PGRU also cooperates and supports many domestic and international research and breeding efforts of apple, grape and tart cherry.