Minutes of the Sorghum and Millet Germplasm Committee

December 6, 2007
ASTA Meeting, Chicago, IL

Dr. Jeff Dahlberg called the meeting to order. Names and addresses of the attendees are attached.

Minutes from the December 7, 2006 at the ASTA meeting had been made available to the Committee and Bruce Maunder moved to accept the minutes and Yilma Kebede seconded. The minutes were approved.

Dr. John Erpelding provided a Curator’s report. Dr. Erpelding indicated that the emergency seed increase of the wild collection has been completed. Dr. Dahlberg asked about the correction to the wild collection based on notes he had taken several years ago. The following manuscript had been published Wiersema, J. H. and J. Dahlberg. 2007. The nomenclature of Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench (Gramineae). Taxom 56:941-946 to justify the suggested changes to the wild collection evaluated by Dr. Dahlberg. No progress had been made on this front. There were questions from the committee concerning the wild collection and the status within the collection. This is one of the weakest aspects of the overall collection and needs to be addressed at some time. It was suggested by Dr. Dahlberg that perhaps Dr. John Wiersema could be used to help in our identification of wild sorghums, since this might be the only person in the country with enough experience to do this. Dr. Mitch Tuinstra suggested that KSU might be contacted to see what their wild collection was like and perhaps see about getting that into the National Collection. Dr. Dahlberg also suggested that the Harlan and deWet Herbarium collection of sorghum at Illinois might be available and will check to see the status of this collection.

Seed increases of 1,680 accessions were completed in St. Croix. Two collections from Burundi and Botswana were evaluated fro anthracnose, and subsets from Botswana, Nigeria, Sudan, and Zimbabwe were being evaluated for grain mold. A collection of 1,019 accessions were evaluated for photoperiod sensitivity in Puerto Rico and all were sensitive, though the collection should be regrown in the US mainland to confirm.

Dr. Gary Pederson handed out a report about activities from Griffin. The report outlined activities on-going at the station and the work that is being conducted to further enhance both the sorghum and millet collection (see handout). Sorghum continues to be one of their most active collections and Dr. Pederson and his group is making excellent progress in moving everything over into -18 C long-term storage. Also, germination testing is moving and 26,253 samples have been tested since 2002. The sweet sorghum collection from Meridian, MS has also been added to the collection and data is currently available on GRIN. Since Jan 1, 2007 12,060 accessions have been distributed to the US and 23 foreign users. Dr. Gebisa Ejeta suggested that our policy on distribution should be promoted more so that people understand what the US policy is. He felt that it would be good PR in many countries.

Dr. Peter Bretting gave a brief report concerning efforts taking place at the National Program level (see handout). There continues to be retirements and some new hires into the system, but it is obvious that there are positions that need to be filled in the germplasm system. Dr. Henry Shands retired and there is work to replace him at Fort Collins. Budgets are strained at present and the budget has not been passed, which means the whole system continues to work on continuing resolutions. The standard International MTA has been adopted by Parties to the IT and are now being used.

Mr. Mark Bohning followed up with a discussion on GRIN and the efforts underway to update the system. Funding has remained flat for several years and it will take some effort to get some of the proposed changes operational. The IT people continue to look for support and suggestions to make GRIN more user-friendly.

Dr. Dahlberg gave a brief update on activities taking place on the genomics side. Unfortunately, no sorghum genome projects were funded this past year, despite the fact that sorghum is the second major crop to be sequenced. The majority of work in this area continues to focus on corn. However, since the sequence has been made available, several biotech companies have expressed interest in sorghum. Dr. Klein provide some updates on the work his lab is working on and continues to work with other groups to get funding for sorghum. He is currently working to revise the Sorghum Conversion Program using molecular techniques to help in the overall process of conversion.

Drs. Dahlberg and Pederson provided an update on the Sorghum Conservation Strategy. They both participated, along with Darrell Rosenow in the International meeting held at ICRISAT. Dr. Dahlberg expressed some concerns about the lack of leadership from ICRISAT, who was charged with moving the strategy forward. Dr. Pederson indicated that they had just received the ICRISAT database and were in the process of looking for and identifying duplicate accessions between the US and ICRISAT collection. Thinks are moving slowly on the implementation of the strategy.

There followed a discussion on Sweet Sorghums. Dr. Fred Miller brought up his concerns about the abuse of the term “Sweet Sorghum” and how there is tremendous confusion with both the private and public sectors about what this term actually means. Given the importance of this crop in terms of its potential for bioenergy, it was suggested that a sub-committee be put together to report back to the Committee on its recommendations on how we might address this issue. Things such as how do we classify this, what criteria are needed to be classified as a sweet, sugar, or other term, and how do we begin to publicize this to educate people on its proper use and terms will need to be addressed by the committee.

The committee appointed by Dr. Dahlberg will be composed of Drs. Fred Miller, Chair, Gary Pederson, Ken Kofoid, and Jeff Dahlberg.

Research Reports: Reports from the proposals from the 2006-2007 funding cycle were provided to the committee before the meeting.

2007-2008 Research Requests: Six requests were made to the Committee for recommendation to the ARS for funding. Voting members of the committee were asked to submit their priorities to Dr. Dahlberg.

Dr. Dahlberg brought up that several committee members were scheduled to be off the committee this year. They were Drs. Ejeta, Kebede, Kresovich, and Tuinstra. Drs. Ejeta, Kebede, and Tuinstra agreed to serve an additional 3 years. It was suggested that Dr. Kresovich be contacted to see if he would continue to participate on the board, given his responsibilities at Cornell. Dr. Dahlberg will follow-up with Dr. Kresovich. An updated membership list will be forwarded to committee members when this is clarified.

The next scheduled meeting will be held at the ASTA meeting in Chicago in December 08.

Dr. Dahlberg moved to close the meeting. Dr. Tuinstra seconded and the meeting was adjourned.

Minutes taken by and submitted by Jeff Dahlberg

Germplasm Meeting Attendees

2007 Sorghum and Millet Germplasm Committee Members in Attendance

Jeff Dahlberg
Gebisa Ejeta
Yilma Kebede
Ken Kofoid
Bruce Maunder
Mitch Tuinstra

2007 Ad Hoc Members of Sorghum and Millet Germplasm Committee in Attendance

Mark Bohning
Peter Bretting
Dave Ellis
John Erpelding
Bob Klein
Fred Miller
Gary Pederson

Others in Attendance

Nicole Hick
Dale Wilson
Roger Monk
Jason Stromp