Submitted to: Helia
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Wild sunflowers are native to the U.S. and ancestors of the cultivated crop. Having the ancestors of the cultivated crop accessible with the boundaries of the U.S. allows the collection and utilization of the wild species of sunflower. Since there are 50 species of wild sunflower with considerable genetic variability, the task of finding desirable charac- teristics in this diversity is a difficult task. Due to the large number of species, a team approach is needed to discover the valuable character- istics. There is a global interest in the utilization of the wild sunflower species to improve cultivated sunflower. The Food and Agricul- ture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), European Cooperative Network on Agriculture (ESCORENA), has established a working group on the evaluation of wild sunflower species. This group has been active in the characterization of wild sunflowers. Participants of the group share the common goal; this is to increase the genetic diversity of cultivated sunflower using wild species. It is through organizations such as FAO that the sunflower industry benefits from the numerous countries that participate in the wild species working group. The group has made significant progress in expanding our knowledge of wild species, but the task is far from complete. It is through international cooperation that we will be able to make more rapid improvement in the sunflower crop.
Technical Abstract: One goal of sunflower researchers globally is to increase the genetic diversity of cultivated sunflower using the wild ancestors to make it a widely adapted crop. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), European Cooperative Research Network on Agriculture (ESCORENA) has established a working group on the evaluation of wild sunflower species consisting of 20 participants from 12 countries. This group serves as the international structure for research on the wild species. Participants of the working group all share a common goal to use wild species for the improvement of cultivated sunflower. This group has reported it's accomplishments in published reports and has accumu- lated information into databases. Some of the recent accomplishments include effective methods to overcome dormancy and increase germination in wild increased variability in oil content and composition, and increased protein concentrations. Several new promising cytoplasmic male sterile cytoplasms have been discovered from the wild species and their respective fertility restoration genes. Several new sources of resis- tance genes to some of the more common diseases have been discovered. Encouraging progress has been made in the interspecific hybridization area. The group also reported progress in the area of molecular system- atic regarding the phylogenetic relationship of Helianthus species based upon RAPD fragments. The group has made significant progress in expand- ing our knowledge about the wild sunflower species, but the task is far from complete.