Minutes of the Apple Crop Germplasm Committee

Conference Room, PGRU, NYSAES- Geneva, NY
October 12-13, 2007

Thursday October 12, 2007,  1:00 pm

CGC members:
Terence Robinson, Jim Luby (phone), Herb Aldwinckle, Angela Baldo, Phil Baugher, Susan Brown, Charlie Embree, Gennaro Fazio, Joseph Goffreda, Jim McFerson, Ian Merwin, Diane Miller, Harvey Reissig

Other Participants:
Paul Baker, Yanking Zhu (phone), Carole Bassett, Mark Bohning, Lailiang Cheng, Philip Forsline, Martha Hamblin, Margarita Licha, Clayton Myers, Heidi Schwaninger, Charles Simon, Bill Srmack, Lingxia Sun, Gayle Volk, Ewa Borejsza-Wysocka, Amy Szewc-McFadden, Dawn Dellefave

Welcome and Workshop Agenda- Introduced and welcoming from Herb Aldwinckle.
Introductions from all attendees present.

Industry CGC Members

  1. Phil Baugher- US apple industry working towards brining specialty crops into the Farm Bill.  Challenges ahead on the political side.
  2. Paul Baker- Challenges with automation, workers (labor supply) and robotics.
  3. Jim McFerson- excellent year in the apple industry (actually last 3 years). Concerned for the future.  Need to convince people of the importance of genetics, specific genes and new varieties.  Rosaceae Executive Committee of 15 members met in June, 2007 at MSU

ARS National Program Staff- Mark Bohning for Peter Bretting.

  1. Referred to page two of Bretting's report that while there have been increases, budgets for NPGS sites are still strained.
  2. Referred to item #6 on International Germplasm Issues. Working on a standard material agreement that hopefully the US will sign off on.  The US wants to continue to freely distribute germplasm.

GRIN Report- Mark Bohning

  1. Gary Kinard is still Acting Director of Plant Exchange Office, Plant Disease laboratory and DBMU.
  2. GRIN has new molecular database with the help and guidance of staff at Fort Collins. 26 sites have molecular data that will be entered. This database is still being updated.
  3. Working on updating the public interface to make it more user friendly.
  4. Working on linking with genome databases
  5. Crop Diversity Fund is working on developing a database like GRIN for developing countries. GRIN will work closely with this project.  How it will be maintained in future is unknown. McFerson emphasized the need to fund databases long-term.

Review of CGC Committee membership- deferred till Friday morning so everyone could go over the current list, make suggestions for new nominees, etc. The revised Committee will be attached with these Minutes

G. Fazio asked if any committee members would like to review this year’s CGC’s grant proposals.  Deadlines for proposals were the end of September.  Lingxia Sun asked if students could review the papers.  Only committee members can do so. Proposals were distributed for evaluation.

Reports on Programs:

PGRU- Phil Forsline, Gennaro Fazio, Angela Baldo, Chuck Simon

Forsline- Went over the 6 spreadsheets prepared by Mark Bohning. Increased the size of the Malus collection by the addition of the seedling populations. Increased the number of accessions backed up at Fort Collins.  Some discussion on species changes and country of origin. Some new  observation data needs to be taken on apple, especially titratable acidity.  Core collection has 61 new accessions. Germplasm distributions have increased. Some committee members would like to see a breakdown on who is receiving this material.  Bohning commented that distribution of material is an issue for all germplasm sites. These figures do not include distributions made to Aldwinckle or Fazio’s programs. There is also the difficulty and time in trying to process requests from foreign countries. Fazio’s presentation of Forsline's paper at the recent Eucarpia meeting in Spain generated interest by other countries in more collaboration and data exchange. We need to load the disease resistance data into GRIN.  Aldwinckle and Forsline invited attendees to view poster and apple diversity display during the break. 

Fazio- discussed his projects including:

  1. Investigation on apomixis in Chinese Malus species
  2. Evaluation of rootstock properties of seedlings derived from Malus sieversii crosses
  3. New crosses between disease resistant Malus sieversii and elite populations
  4. Evaluation of water use efficiency properties of Malus sieversii accessions

Simon- discussed his projects including:

  1. SSR Fingerprinting of the Collection
  2. Ploidy typing of the Malus Xdomestica
  3. Mapping population development

University of Minnesota- Jim Luby (by phone)

  1. Evaluation of horticulturally elite Malus sieversii germplasm for apple scab resistance genes using phenotyping and marker-based screening.  Graduate student, Steve McKay working extensively on texture genes

Kearneysville- Clayton Myers, Carole Bassett, Wojciech Janisiewicz 

Myers- discussed his project:

  1. Host plant resistance to insects in Malus germplasm

Bassett- discussed her project:

  1. Evaluation of Wild Apple Germplasm from Kazakhstan (35 member Volk core from xeric site 6) for Water Use Efficiency as a Preliminary Screen for Drought Tolerance.

Janisiewicz- not present.  Blue mold resistance project was discussed.  Greater diversity among the Kazakhstan apple collection than among cultivated apple as evidenced by their broad range of fruit maturity, quality and disease resistance patterns. Fazio did starch analysis.
Fort Collins- Gayle Volk

Volk discussed her projects:

  1. Genetic Diversity Analysis to identify core collections, gaps, ancestral
          relationships among wild apple species and domestic cider types as well as some local landrace apples from the U.S. Southwest
  2. Cryogenic storage Research Programs

Plant Germplasm & Quarantine Program- Margarita Licha

Licha- presented power point presentation showing overview of their program. October 2005, APHIS assumed responsibility for the plant quarantine program.  Staff changes.  Licha is responsible for all fruit quarantine programs. As of February 2007, there are 163 apple clones in quarantine. Two accessions released in 2007. No introductions yet booked for 2008. She discussed application, deadline and testing procedures. Introductions should be requested immediately.

Angela Baldo discussed her projects as Computational Biologist
1.  Computational identification of candidate genes in response to Fire Blight in
     apple (including rootstock G41)
2.  A Search for Apple Resistance Gene Analogs among Wild and Rootstock

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada- Kentville, Nova Scotia - Charlie Embree.

Embree discussed new introductions to their collections.  Dr. Cheryl Hampson is actively crossing apples. Continue to maintain their apple species collection that includes Kazakhstan apple seedlings.  They are being monitored for commercial acceptability and disease tolerance.

Rutgers University- Joe Goffreda

Goffreda- discussed his apple breeding program which is developing disease-tolerant dessert apples with crisp texture and excellent storage potential. Data obtained from forty-four elite apple clones from Kazakhstan will be made available to the GRIN database. They are starting to cut back trees that are getting too big. The Chinese material that was sent is proving to be very susceptible to fire blight.

University of Illinois- Schuyler Korban (not present)

Korban report includes the following projects:

  1. Apple EST Project
  2. Apple Microarray Project
  3. Apple Physical Map Project


OARDC/OSU (no written report) - Discussion led by Diane Miller

Diane discussed the work being done with the Kazakhstan apple varieties from PGRU. They have not been very successful in the mid-west. Of the 900 seedlings obtained from PGRU from the 1993 and 1995 collections, nearly all bloom very early. One has a very interesting trait showing a single spur and will be accessioned into the PGRU collection for further evaluation.   They are evaluating 3,000 seedlings from Kyrgyzstan which they hope to have better success.  She went over some the breeding activities they are working on with other agencies in the mid-west including Midwest Apple Foundation and Improvement Association.  They are interested in propagating the entire core collection for evaluation in Ohio.

Michigan State University- Randy Beaudry (not present)

Phil Forsline discussed his report on the following:

  1. Evaluation of Geneva Malus core collection for volatile profile and storage potential.

Michigan State University- Steve van Nocker (not present) and Sonali Mookerjee

discussed their project on genetic analysis of flowering traits in apples, particularly the analysis of natural variation in abscission among apple species and cultivars

Friday October 13, 2007,  8:00 am pm

Continuing discussion from previous CGC Meeting – Review of “Developing an action plan for characterization and utilization of the PGRU Malus collection for the next five years”

  1. Ed Buckler’s power point on Using Genomics to Create An Allele Index to NPGS.  Attendees were asked to review this presentation.  Project viewed as important but there is no funding at this point.  Fazio would support if matching funds were made available for genotyping. Aldwinckle would like a review of what has been done in phenotyping already. Draft people to work on this.
  2. International Phenotypic Descriptors for Rosacea - Volk led discussion.  There is discussion at international level to unify phenotypic descriptors based on common and different sources.
  3. International descriptors for fire blight-Alwinckle led discussion.  Three descriptors in GRIN for fire blight standards in greenhouse. Looking to standardize worldwide.  Baldo suggests including parents of populations.  Also include rootstocks in standards. 
  4. Expanding characterization of the Core Collection.  Discussion as to adding or removing accessions from the core.  Original core 40% M. Xdomestica.  Now expanded to include representatives of all species available. Myers asks about designer core and sub core in other collections.  McFerson recommends including sub-populations.  Susan Brown will chair sub committee (and enlist members) to review current core collection.  McFerson recommends maximizing diversity in core.  Fazio moves to strike clones from the core and build on key founders (M. Xdomestica). McFerson responded: this is a task for CAP proposal.  Aldwinckle suggest proceeding carefully before removing a lot of accessions.  Should the core include rootstocks?
  5. Fazio discussed the concern for the Brogdale apple collection in the UK.  Should this committee draft a letter to DEFRA  (UK govt dept) voicing their concerns for the future of this collection?  Is this better approached by the USDA as a whole?  Is this collection backed-up?  Currently it is mainly a tourist attraction.
  6. Genome Sequence (Italy) - the data and annotation are supposed to be made public in the near future.  Will provide access to a larger number of markers.  Project done on Golden Delicious.  Should get an update at the Rosaceae Genomics Conference IV meeting in Chile in March.


Open discussion and development of action items:

Phenotypic and genotypic characterization- discussion of the topic had been covered

Diversity in Malus at PGRU- collection has become more diverse in the past 10-15 years

Mapping projects in M. sieversii- use of the Gala X M. sieversii (xeric site) population  Make it available for genetic testing.  The population of 200 seedlings has completed 4 years (own-rooted).  As fruiting starts, begin phenotyping.

Finger printing PGRU 2500 clones- have 8-20 markers.  Simon said there was no money for continuation of project at this time. McFerson asked if there is a plan for the future.

Cornell Apple Genomics Initiative- Susan Brown announced four new future positions for this program in architecture (to be announced and recruited very soon), nutrition, disease resistance and entomology.  McFerson notes growers are looking at and are concerned with labor, genomics and breeding.  Need for developing complimentary collaborations between research and industry.

Allele Mining- being done on Malus sieversii.

Underrepresented germplasm:

  1. Brogdale - noted from previous discussion
  2. China- Aldwinckle and Forsline discussed the need to go back to China to collect. They feel that collection is under or not represented in certain Chinese species that could not be collected on the previous trip to Sichuan. Also some important regions rich in Malus germplasm have not been tapped. Area in China to collect would be Yunnan,  Guizho and  Tibet.. Arranging a trip is complex and expensive.  Permission must be obtained from all levels of Chinese government, sites for collecting need to be identified and mapped by Chinese collaborators, and then actual collecting must be done.  Discussion on the problems and difficulties with obtaining material in China.  McFerson will check his contacts in this area through export/import activities.
  3. Kyrgyzstan- Gayle Volk will work with Diane Miller on obtaining material for evaluation.


Genetic Vulnerability Statement- Aldwinckle went over the need to update the document at this time. General agreement that this should be done on a regular basis.  Fazio volunteered to work on the update.  It was agreed that this document provides valuable support when applying for funding and is used by program directors.

Opportunities for future breeding- page 11 of 2006 CGC minutes- Susan Brown offered to canvas the group for a list of priorities rather than a laundry list of items.

Miscellaneous- McFerson discussed the activities of the Rosaceae Genomics, Genetics and breeding US Executive Committee ("RosEXEC"). Recommends the GDR website should be linked to PGRU and GRIN websites.  Baldo will work on this.  The website to be included in these minutes:

Membership and Future Meetings- committee went over the recommendations put forth on the membership list.  Changes include the following:

  1. Inactive members were dropped from the committee.
  2. Bruce Barritt is retiring.  Ask his successor to take his place.
  3. Michael Glenn, new director of AFRS, ARS, WV added as ex-officio member
  4. Find out if Darius Swietlik will still serve as ex-officio member
  5. Margarit Licha to take Joe Foster's place as ex-officio member.
  6. New members nominated:  Paul Baker (industry, NY), Gayle Volk (ARS, CO), Wojciech Janisiewicz (ARS, WV), Cameron Peace, WSU, WA), Randy Beaudry (MSU. MI), Steve van Nocker (MSU, MI), Yanmin Zhu (ARS, WA), Mark Mazzola (ARS, WA), Carole Bassett (ARS, WV), Amit Dhingra (WSU, WA), and Clayton Myers (ARS, WV)

Motion by G. Fazio, seconded by J. Goffreda to approve appointment of all those nominated, pending indication of their willingness too serve, was passed unanimously.

It was decided after some discussion to hold next year’s meeting on Oct. 31, 2008 at the Dawes Arboretum, in Newark, Ohio.  It would be in conjunction with the Mid-West Apple Association annual meeting.  We will invite members of that association to attend and perhaps discuss their programs.  Should CGC piggyback with other meetings in the future?

Action Items and Timelines

  1. Committee support for the germplasm repository in Brogdale.  Fazio will work on a letter of support to be sent to DEFRA.
  2. Fire blight descriptors- Aldwinckle will continue to work on these along with the international community.
  3. Apple Descriptors- Gayle Volk will continue to work on these.
  4. Redefining the Core Collections- Susan Brown will chair a sub committee to review.
  5. Molecular and Phenotypic Characterization- (Ed Buckler) would be supported by Fazio if they are funded equally.
  6. Mapping of M. sieversii hybrids and fingerprinting the PGRU collections- C. Simon to continue these projects.
  7. Collecting in China- Aldwinckle and Forsline will follow up on this discussion.
  8. Genetic Vulnerability Statement- will be worked on by Fazio, Forsline and Aldwinckle.
  9. GDR Website should be linked  to PGRU and GRIN websites.
  10. Breeding Priorities- Susan Brown will go through the list.


McFerson would like to thank everyone for all the good and hard work being done in apple research especially the new scientists like Angela Baldo and Gayle Volk who are taking our research forward in new directions.

Meeting Adjourned- noon