Ornamental Germplasm Acquisition in Private Industry;
Problems, Possibilities and Opportunities.

Dr. Paul Talmadge, Pan American Seed

Why look for germplasm

Problems in germplasm acquisition These are not in order of importance Physically finding it, where ever it is in the world. Easier said than done - can be difficult and easy at the same time. Use of US native germplasm, why to consider? Abiding by the local/international regulations Invasiveness, noxious weed potential Possibilities
How to use the germplasm? Ask for a show of hands of who is in research, or other capacities.
As plant breeders we dream about potential, mentally comparing and combining traits and characters from different accessions, species and genera. We jump at the chance to find new accessions that may help us solve some of our problems with Disease susceptibility (rust on daylily, scab on apple, mildew on crape myrtle), weather intolerance (Kalmia, Rhododendron.). Or enlarge the market we have currently on our given genera by bringing in new plant forms (prostrate, completely upright, bush type through witch’s broom.) flower or fruit size Improvements, flower or fruit color extensions. Foliage forms and colors for ornamental plants. Geographic extension for the use of our plant material through sourcing related germplasm with better climactic adaptability, whether it be hardiness to cold, hot, wet or dry.
Which one of us would not like to be responsible for having the idea and acquiring the germplasm for a new crop with potential as large as some we have today? Apple, Viburnum, Daylily, Rudbeckia, Vaccinium and a hundred others like them.
The bottom line to plant breeders is that we have a reasonably finite set of traits to work with and rearrange in different combinations in our breeding programs, when we add a new trait or set of traits(through germplasm addition) to our equation, it changes the recombinations that are possible significantly.

Opportunities
The market in ornamental horticulture has been, and continues to be driven by innovation and novelty. In the market sector that I work. Most, if not all of our growth has been by completely new species or new germplasm infusion in existing genera. According to the national garden beareau statistics for ornamental plants used in bedding. The marjority of the top classes have experienced negative growth in unit volume in last 3 years. The classes that have grown have been considered minor classes and some of which were not even accounted for, say 5 years ago.

Other is 46 % of US annual bedding plant sales, 30% of US cut flower sales and 25 % of US potted plant sales from a 2000 USDA survey

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