"From Arboretums to Your Garden"
|For almost 75 years, the U.S. National
Arboretum's Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit (FNPRU) has been a
leader in the development of new and improved floral and nursery products.
The 446-acre arboretum's advances in genetic improvement and disease control
of landscape plants and major cut flowers have, in no small part, contributed
to the rapid growth of the floriculture crop sector of American agriculture—which
had a $3.5 billion wholesale value in 1998. (See "Floral Gems," Agricultural
Research, September 1997, pp. 8–13.)
FNPRU's research activities have helped spur the burgeoning floral and nursery crops industries in myriad ways. From their germplasm improvement, taxonomy studies, and development of virus- or pest-resistant plants to the creation of plant pathogen detection methods and genetic transformation technologies, the research unit's scientists continue to engage some of the horticulture industry's most enduring challenges.
| "A 1996 horticulture research
initiative spearheaded by ARS Administrator
Floyd P. Horn has been tremendously beneficial to the industry," says Mary
Ashby Pamplin. She previously directed horticultural research for the American
Nursery and Landscape Association.
"Through labs like the FNPRU, ARS does something that we as an industry cannot; that is, conduct the long-term, high-risk, and costly basic research that forms the building blocks for the industry's own research programs," Pamplin says. "ARS is in a perfect position to coordinate research across disciplines at a very high level and to effectively communicate its findings."
This cooperation with industry informs much of what ARS scientists accomplish at FNPRU and at the more than 100 ARS laboratories across the country and abroad and provides researchers with an incentive to find solutions to difficult challenges.
|Following are some research programs that highlight the depth and breadth of FNPRU's activities:||Ornamental Virology
Over the last 10 years, the FNPRU has been engaged in detecting, identifying, and characterizing several viruses affecting ornamental crops. Among the tools scientists use are antibodies, electron microscopy, and nucleic acid hybridization. These approaches include developing control procedures to prevent or minimize virus transmission, finding reagents to quickly detect and screen viruses, and quarantine interception and epidemiology.
Using Genetics To Plum the Depths of Plant Diseases
New Redbuds and Lilacs Grace America's Gardens
In addition, Pooler's release of a new Syringa cultivar named
Betsy Ross has provided the industry with a new lilac acclaimed for its
fragrant white flowers, lush green foliage, compact growth habit, disease
tolerance, and adaptation to warmer climates. One significant advance has
been the new lilac's tolerance to powdery mildew—the biggest disease problem
for lilacs in the Washington, D.C., area. The new shrub thrives under full
sun and can be used as a background planting in a shrub border or as a
specimen plant or hedge. It can be planted throughout USDA hardiness zones
5 to 7.
A Rose Is a Rose Is a Rose
Nightmare on Elm Street Is Over
| Over the past 20 years,
plant geneticist Denny Townsend has worked to develop the first commercially
available elm varieties that are tolerant to Dutch elm disease. After their
long-awaited arrival in wholesale nurseries in 1997 and retail nurseries
in 1999, the American elm is well on its way to gracing our boulevards
and backyards once again.
Novel Approaches to Plant Breeding
Comis, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
The National Arboretum research is part of Plant, Microbial, and Insect Genetic Resources, Genomics, and Genetic Improvement (#301), Plant Biological and Molecular Processes (#302), and Plant Diseases (#303). These ARS National Programs are described on the World Wide Web at http://www.nps.ars.usda.gov.
John Hammond, Margaret R. Pooler, Kathryn K. Kamo, Alden M. Townsend, Robert J. Griesbach, and James C. Locke are in the USDA-ARS Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit, BARC-West, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350; phone (301) 504-6570, fax (301) 504-5096, (301) 344-3441 [Townsend's fax].
|"From Arboretums to Your Garden" was published in the September 2001 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.|
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Last Updated October 27, 2005 4:08 PM
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