Submitted to: Foreign Agriculture Organization Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/4/1995
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Sunflower is one of a few crops native to the U.S. It is proposed to have originated from the central Southwest U.S. Having the ancestors of the present day cultivated sunflower accessible for the improvement of the cultivated sunflower within the boundaries of the U.S. allows the collection and utilization of these wild progenitors. Since there are 50 wild species with considerable genetic variability, the task of finding desirable characteristics in the diversity is a difficult task. There is a global interest in the utilization of the wild sunflower species to improve cultivated sunflower. Such activities are coordinated through the Foreign Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is through organizations such as FAO, that the sunflower industry benefits from the numerous countries participating in the wild species network. This divides the enormous task and has been very successful in evaluating a considerable number of wild sunflower populations for various agronomic and economic characteristics. Several new sources of disease resistance genes have been identified. Also, several potential new sources of female cytoplasm have been identified. It is through international cooperative efforts that we will be able to more rapidly improve the cultivated sunflower crop.
Technical Abstract: The Foreign Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) working group on the evaluation of wild sunflower species consists of 20 participants from 12 countries. Participants of the working group all share a common goal and that is to increase the genetic diversity of cultivated sunflower using the wild species to make it a widely adapted global crop. The accomplishments of the group have added considerable knowledge to the informational database about wild species and their potential use. The group has been active in the collection of additional populations of wild sunflower from the Central Great Plains of the U.S., Montenegro, and Mexico. Additional information has been obtained on the maintenance procedure using honeybees for pollination and seed increases. New information has been reported using scarification techniques to increase germination and overcome dormancy. One area of considerable activity has been interspecific hybridization. Several new sources of cytoplasmic male sterility have been discovered. Progress has been made on evaluating additional wild populations for genes for resistance to the following diseases, downy mildew, broomrape, powdery mildew, and brown stem canker. The participants have made significant progress in expanding our knowledge about the wild species, but the job is not finished by any means.