Pyrus Germplasm Committee Meeting Red Lion Inn, Wenatchee, Washington February 20, 2008 Attendees

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Pyrus Germplasm Committee Meeting

Red Lion Inn, Wenatchee, Washington

February 20, 2008
Attendees: Committee Members Richard Bell (Chair), Steve Castagnoli (OSU-CE), Rachel Elkins (UC-CE), Margarita Licha (USDA-APHIS), Jim McFerson (WTFRC), Joseph Postman (USDA-ARS, NCGR), Barbara Reed (USDA-ARS, NCGR), John Wells (Grower, Hood River); Stakeholders: Tom Auvil (WTFRC), Janet Turner (OSU -MCAREC)
1. An informal dinner at Inna’s Cuisine with committee members and stakeholders was

held prior to the CGC meeting. During that time, Joseph Postman presented a brief

introduction to the National Clonal Germplasm Repository (NCGR-Corvallis).

2. The formal CGC meeting started with an informal vote to accept the minutes of the 2007 meeting, which had been mailed prior to the meeting.

3. Joseph Postman, Curator of the Pyrus collection at NCGR-Corvallis, gave a presentation of the status of the repository. The budget for FY2008 is 0.7% ($10- 12,000) less than FY2007. That has affected staffing, with the loss of the Seed Collection manager position. A summary report (attached) was handed out.

4. Joseph Postman outlined in-house characterization and evaluation efforts. About half of this work has done with summer student help, hired when funds are available.

During the past few years photographs have been taken and added to the GRIN

database. It was mentioned that Tom Gradziel (UC-Davis stone fruit breeder) has a system for quantitatively evaluating fruit (?) or tree size and shape based on digital analysis of images.

5. Progress on action items from the 2007 annual CGC meeting were reviewed.

a. Germplasm evaluation priorities – R. Bell reported that he reviewed the list of

evaluation priorities contained in the 2004 report and a list of 18 scion tree and fruit traits and rootstock traits was prepared. This list was handed out for CGC

members to review and prioritize. R. Bell stated that his highest priorities for

in-house characterizations include:

basic fruit descriptors (color, russet, size, shape, harvest date, bloom date)

fruit sensory traits

tree growth and fruiting habit

Comments were made on traits that could easily be evaluated by personnel at NCGR, for example fruit soluble solids and titratable acidity. Basic traits can be

ascertained, but Corvallis has a challenging environment. [Pear scab is a major

problem.] The question of whether these should be done on fruit at harvest or

after storage was raised. Jim McFerson pointed out that there can be large

environmental variation in these traits. [We need standard cultivars for

comparison. There is a European descriptor list. There may be a need to conduct evaluations at other sites, possibly through the use of grant funds. These trials be a subset of the core collection, and should have multiple trees for evaluation [of traits with high tree-to-tree variability.]

The basic objectives of the repository were reviewed: acquisition, preservation, and characterization of a broad sample of the genetic diversity within the assigned genera (Pyrus. Cydonia, Fragaria, Vaccinium, Rubus, Ribes, Humulus, Mentha, Actinidia, Asimina, Corylus, Mespilus, Sorbus, Juglans cinerea, eight other minor genera , and intergeneric hybrids derived from these genera).
There is a new joint USDA/European Commision (EC-PGR) project for a unified plant germplasm database. Joseph Postman is involved in this project. It was suggested that the entire descriptor system be reviewed. The European system

Has a numeric scale scoring system for most traits, with a standard cultivar for each scale point. R. Bell pointed out that GRIN needs a more user-friendly method of reports and suggested a multi-trait spreadsheet report format is needed.

b. Collection maintenance - Tree maintenance was discussed. Currently the single trees of the field collection are hedged to contain tree size. This makes

evaluation of growth and fruiting habit and other tree traits difficult, if not entirely unreliable. John Wells suggested repropagating a proportion of the trees on a regular schedule.

c. Culling of the collection - Genetic fingerprinting has been done on all suspected

duplicates and synonyms. True synonyms will be discarded. Additional genetic fingerprinting (using SSR markers) may offer a rational means for reducing redundancy. It was suggested (in 2007 also) that many of the OHxF clones could be eliminated.

d. Subgroup and trait lists - As suggested, these have been done and are available in

the GRIN database. Lack of a spreadsheet-type report capability in GRIN limits

our ability to produce useful reports by species, origin, and trait. Joseph Postman has prepared a list of the cultivar core with information on major unique traits in a comments column.
e. Species core - The charge was to update the species core. R. Bell reviewed the core of clones and seed accessions of wild P. communis and other Pyrus species and concluded that it was adequate with relatively few additions or deletions

6. Review of past and current evaluation grants

a. Bassil – “Developing an SSR fingerprinting set for European pear”. FY05, $16,000. This involved molecular fingerprinting of the core collection: R. Bell reported that the project designed Pyrus-specific primers from Genbank SSR sequences. The primers are being used to genotype the core collection and have identified synonymous accessions and mis-identified accessions. A short paper

has been published in Acta Horticulturae on the primers. The primers were also

used to investigate genetic diversity in a collection of pear and apple germplasm

in the Azores.

b. Bell – “Evaluation of host resistance to pear psylla in European pear cultivars”. FY06; $7,000. This project involved evaluation of ovipositional antixenosis of Pyrus germplasm to pear psylla. One replication has been performed, and an

additional 2 replications need to be completed.

c. Postman – “Evaluation of Cydonia germplasm for resistance to fire blight”. FY07; $15,000. The project is ongoing; a few clones with levels of resistance higher than most quinces have been identified. The results will be verified this year.

d. Bassil and Postman – “Core Pyrus genotype and phenotype evaluation – Coordination with international standards”. FY08; $17,000. This is a new

project which will complete genetic fingerprinting with the EU set of standard

SSR primers, and seeks to evaluate basic fruit and tree descriptors.

7. APHIS Plant Germplasm Introduction and Quarantine Program.
Dr. Margarita Licha reported on USDA-APHIS germplasm quarantine activities and presented a written report (attached). We discussed the need to prioritize Pyrus and Cydonia clonal accessions. There are 305 accessions in various stages of the disease indexing program. She asked that Joseph Postman review accessions intended for NCGR and that Richard Bell review accessions intended for his breeding program (includes those listed under van der Zwet). She requested that those individuals assign priorities to their accessions to enable the APHIS program to more efficiently process germplasm under quarantine. Jim McFerson, the Chair and all others thanked APHIS and Ms. Licha for the service her program provides to the germplasm and

breeding community and the pear industry.

8. Exchange/Exploration Priorities and Opportunities.
A high priority program to acquire pear rootstock germplasm from international sources was discussed. The activity is being coordinated for the NC-140 program

by Rachel Elkins and Steve Castagnoli, with assistance in identifying germplasm from Richard Bell. A list of prospective rootstocks from foreign breeding and rootstock evaluation programs was circulated. Twenty-two of the 69 rootstocks are

already in the USA and some have already been planted in trials in the Pacific Northwest. R. Bell will contact the sources of the other rootstocks and try to arrange

for importation into this country for research. Intellectual property rights will need to

be discussed with the originators. The prospective germplasm includes Pyrus and putatively cold-hardy quince. Dwarfing rootstock for pear is one of the highest priorities of the US pear industry. (The list is attached.)
Turkey – R. Bell has been working on a draft proposal for pear germplasm collection in Turkey. There has been interest from scientists in Turkey for this activity. Turkey has indigenous cultivars as well as wild populations of Pyrus which may be unique. The proposal will be submitted to the USDA National Plant Germplasm System for funding.
China – R. Bell identified China as a high priority country with which to pursue

germplasm activities. It has been very difficult to obtain germplasm from China, but

the New Zealand pear breeding program have obtained high value P. bretschneideri germplasm. [Chinese germplasm in US quarantine must be given high priority for processing, but additional information on the value of some of the clones is needed.]

Developing close ties with the Chinese germplasm system may allow access to hig- value germplasm, including cultivars and wild species. Major germplasm collections

are at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences stations in Xingcheng and Wuhan. There are additional provincial academy germplasm and breeding programs throughout other pear growing regions of China.
The countries of the former Soviet Union were also mentioned as high priority regions for developing cooperative programs.

9. Miscellaneous items: Amit Dhingra (Washington State University - Pullman) noted that he is interested in studying genetic diversity of the chloroplast genome of Pyrus, and would like to make use of the core collection.

10. Administrative Items: Jim McFerson suggested that we make changes in the membership of the committee with the objective of rotating off members who are not

actively participating in the committee activities. There seemed to be general agreement among those present that such changes are desirable.

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