Location: National Clonal Germplasm RepositoryTitle: Sorbus sensu lato: A complex genus with unfulfilled crop potential
Submitted to: Journal of the American Pomological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2023
Publication Date: 4/1/2023
Citation: King, R., Bassil, N.V., Rounsaville, T.J., Reinhold, L.A. 2023. Sorbus sensu lato: A complex genus with unfulfilled crop potential. Journal of the American Pomological Society. 77(2):110-127.
Interpretive Summary: Mountain ash and its close relatives are trees valuable for landscape and ornamental uses, and provide fruits as a source of food, medicinal, and beverage uses. The objective of this article is to provide an overview of the conservation efforts and plant collections of mountain ash and its relatives within the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Plant Germplasm System at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., and at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, OR. Historical breeding efforts and potentials for further development are also discussed.
Technical Abstract: Sorbus, a diverse genus in the Malinae subtribe of the Rosaceae, has multiple common names including mountain ash, rowan, whitebeam, and service tree. More than 600 species have been ascribed to Sorbus, yet recent phylogenetic studies indicate this polyphyletic group consists of multiple genera. Sorbus s.l. has a circumpolar boreal distribution with non-indigenous introductions of species in New Zealand and the US. Several genebanks of the US National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) conserve representatives of 33 taxa within this diverse group. The Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository (WLPGR) of the US National Arboretum maintains 85 active accessions as seeds and living plants in Washington DC, with a focus on wild species and intergeneric hybrids of ornamental and landscape value. The USDA ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository (NCGR) in Corvallis, Oregon, maintains 38 Sorbus accessions with a focus on species with potential as fruit crops or rootstocks and 26 intergeneric accessions in which Sorbus crossed with others of the Malinae subtribe.While Sorbus s.l. species have been recognized for their ornamental qualities in the nursery and landscaping industries, this genus also has potential for its edible fruit and use in processed products for the nutraceutical, juice, and brewing industries. Wild Sorbus s.l. species offer a great opportunity for breeding and selection of improved edible and ornamental cultivars. During the last century, the classical giants of fruit breeding, Luther Burbank (Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, California) and Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin (Tambov, Russia), bred and selected Sorbus s.l. The NCGR-Corvallis conserves four Burbank selections and seedlings and seven Michurin releases, and is working to add additional accessions of their crosses. Building on Burbank and Michurin’s breeding efforts, continued enhancement of wild plant material through controlled crosses could greatly improve flavor, reduce astringency, and enlarge fruit size for this crop. The possibilities of unique fruit development from intergeneric Sorbus s.l. crosses and backcrosses with other closely related genera is discussed. Expansion of the NPGS collections is planned to represent additional diverse species. Germplasm in the NPGS system is available for research, and can be requested from GRIN-Global.