Minutes of the Leafy Vegetable Crop Germplasm Committee

Tuesday, July 22, 2008, Rosen Plaza Hotel, Orlando, FL

Attendees – Mark Bohning, Peter Bretting, Kevin Brink, Shawna Bushey, Barbara Hellier, Maria Jenderek, Teddy Morelock, Beiquan Mou (Chair), Russell Nagata, Kathy Reitsma, Larry Robertson, Erik Wilkins. 

Following self-introductions, the minutes of the 2007 meeting were approved.

Crop Reports:
Celery – Larry Robertson gave a report on the Apium germplasm collection at Geneva, New York. There are 237 accessions at Geneva (109 PIs and 128 Geneva numbered lines), and 64 accessions at Ft. Collins, Colorado that are not backed up at Geneva. Most (231) of the 237 accessions are Apium graveolens. The need to obtain more wild species from other genebanks or breeding programs was discussed, as currently there are only 5 wild accessions in the collection. Seed production was conducted for 30 accessions in 2008, and 2 accessions were planted in 2008 for seed production in 2009, which will result in all accessions from Geneva being available for distribution. About half of the accessions still need to be regenerated to provide sufficient seeds for backup at Ft. Collins. Starting in 2009, the Ft. Collins accessions will be transferred to the collection at Geneva.  The seeds are stored at –20oC with no humidity control at Geneva. There has been relatively little demand for the collection in the past six years, totaling 193 samples. 
Chicory & Endive – Kathy Reitsma reported that the Cichorium collection at Ames, Iowa remains at 276 accessions (108 C. endivia and 168 C. intybus), of which 230 are available for distribution and 241 are backed up at Ft. Collins.  In January 2008, 166 Ames-numbered accessions were assigned permanent numbers from PI 651886 to PI 652051. No Cichorium was regenerated in 2008, but about 30 accessions will be regenerated in 2009. Original seeds are stored at -18oC while a working collection is maintained at 4oC and 28% humidity. During the past year, nine orders were filled resulting in 152 samples (151 accessions) distributed for foreign requests and 23 samples (21 accessions) for domestic requests.

Spinach – Kathy Reitsma (for David Brenner) reported on the collection status of 401 accessions held at Ames, of which 349 are available and 374 are backed up at Ft. Collins.  In cooperation with Sakata Seed and USDA-ARS in Salinas, CA, 70 accessions will be regenerated this fall. In collaboration with David Kovach, investigation to break seed dormancy in wild Spinacia tetrandra continued.  In fall 2005, PI 647861 seeds germinated after being kept in sand-filled flats in a warm greenhouse throughout the summer.  Seeds were harvested in 2006 and were planted in February 2007.  Following the same germination method, only 3 out of 100 seeds germinated.  Other methods also failed to promote germination. It is possible that the new seeds needed longer after-ripening. In 2007, 1211 seed samples from 374 accessions were distributed to 28 orders.  In 2008, 206 samples have been distributed through July 1. David is initiating an effort to collect germplasm that are related to Spinacia in genera: Micromonolepis, Monolepis, and Suckleya. Anyone interested in participation should contact David (David.Brenner@ARS.USDA.GOV).

Lettuce – Barbara Hellier reported that the collection at Pullman, Washington was increased by 3 cultivars (PI 561196 Impact, PI 601617 Atlas, and PI 635108 Chief) that were released from the PVP program and 3 L. serriola accessions collected in the Republic of Georgia in the past year.  For the 1384 Lactuca sativa accessions, 1101 are available for distribution, 1170 are backed-up at Ft. Collins, and 56 are being regenerated and tested for LMV using ELISA.  Of the 179 L. serriola accessions, only 39 are available for distribution as the rest have low germination rates. Barbara is working hard to regenerate these accessions by germinating seeds on filter paper, agar, or tissue culture media with hormones in Petri plates.  17,000 seeds from 16 accessions have been plated, of which 75 plants from 6 accessions have been recovered, ranging from 1 to 29 plants per accession. It was suggested to obtain healthy seeds of these accessions from other lettuce collections such as Salinas or Davis, CA for regeneration.  Shawna Bushey and Beiquan Mou were willing to help with the seed regeneration in their greenhouses. Anyone who would like to help with the recovery and regeneration of the L. serriola collection is welcome. During the past year, 867 seed samples from 530 accessions were distributed in 74 orders to 64 individuals.  In March 2008, Dr. Jinguo Hu started as the research leader for the Western Regional Plant Introduction Station at Pullman.

Other Reports:
Germplasm Evaluation Funding Report:
Krishna Subbarao and Ryan Hayes sent a written progress report on the proposals funded in FY2004-2008. All of these projects involved screening of lettuce germplasm for resistance to wilt cause by Verticillium dahliae.  They have identified two races of V. dahliae through field and greenhouse testing as well as pathogen diversity studies. Three resistant iceberg breeding lines were released by using the Race 1 resistant cultivar La Brillante. Resistance to Race 2 has not been identified yet. To date, 323 accessions have been screened in the greenhouse using a Race 2 isolate and 76 accessions were selected for further testing, with another 150 accessions being screened this year.

Crop Germplasm Committee Chairs Meeting Report:
Beiquan Mou attended the CGC Chairs meeting in Ft. Collins, CO, June 2-3, 2008 and discussed CGC related issues with other chairs and NPGS/NPS personnel.  There are 40 CGCs and most of them meet annually or biannually.  Three new CGCs were approved at the meeting for minor nut crops (pistachio, chestnut, hazelnut), essential oils (mint, hop), and medicinal crops.  There were suggestions of new CGCs for some high-value crops like strawberry, lettuce, almond, etc.  Non-U.S. CGC members are allowed as long as they contribute to the committee.  Because of the backlog and lack of capacity at quarantine sites, collection of seeds instead of plants is encouraged for germplasm exploration.  It is a felony to avoid the quarantine process.  We should look into the possibility of domestic exploration that generally has lower budget, and easier planning and obtaining permits.

National Program Staff Report:
Peter Bretting, National Program (NP) Leader, gave a report about germplasm-related activities in the NP301 (Plant Genetic Resources, Genomics, and Genetic Improvement).  About 10,000 NPGS accessions were shipped to the Svalbard Seed Vault in Norway for long-term storage.  NPGS is working on a three-year $1.4 million project to transform GRIN into GRIN-Global, a powerful but easy-to-use, Internet-based information management system that will link world’s plant genebanks, with a completion date by 4th quarter of 2010. For FY08, no new or expanded research projects were funded, and an across-the-board reduction of 0.7% was levied on all USDA programs.  The Administration’s ARS FY09 budget proposes a 7.5% reduction and 5.5% redirection.  It does propose an increase of $3.25 million for “Agricultural Genomics, Germplasm, and Collection”, but such an increase would result from redirection of existing funds from current research projects. 88% of the NP301 Project Plans were rated passing during the first review, with a median score of Minor Revision, a substantial improvement over the first review cycle five years ago.    

Other Discussion:
Germplasm Evaluation Funding for FY2009.  Germplasm evaluation funding for FY2009 has became available. Funding announcement and proposal format have been sent out to everyone on our mailing list.  Proposals should be submitted to the chair by November 5, 2008 to allow enough time for ranking by LVCGC members. The proposals are due to the National Program Staff in Beltsville on December 5, 2008.

Upcoming Meetings.  It was decided that the next LVCGC meeting will be held at the 18th International Leafy Vegetable Conference, Yuma, Arizona, March 2009. Other meetings of interest to LVCGC members were mentioned:

  1. International Spinach Conference, San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 30 – Dec. 2, 2008.
  2. the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science, St. Louis, Missouri, July 25-28, 2009.


Prepared by Beiquan Mou.