Pea soup

The pea lines are descendants of an inbred population of plants derived from an ARS cross made in 1993 between the cultivar Dark Skin Perfection and germplasm line 90-2131. Besides their tolerance of Aphanomyces root rot, the lines were also chosen for their acceptable agronomic characteristics.

They make it sound so easy, don’t they, in the USDA press release? But then you realize that 1993 was twenty years ago. And that “germplasm line 90-2131” is PI 557501, which has a bit of a pedigree itself:

{[(Small Sieve Freezer/C-165) / (Early Perfection 3040 / C-165) / PH-91-3] / 74SN4 / PI 180693}

And that you can parse that pedigree:

Line C-165 is a University of Wisconsin selection resistant to fusarium wilt (Race 1 and 2). PH-91-3 (Reg. no. GP-11) and 74SN4 (GP-17), released by the USDA-ARS, are fusarium root rot and fusarium wilt resistant. PI 180693 is resistant to A. euteiches. Line 90-2131 is resistant-to-tolerant to fusarium and aphanomyces root rot, both in pure culture tests and in the field. This line is also resistant to Races 1, 5, and 6 and segregating for Race 2 of fusarium wilt.

And that Small Sieve Freezer and Perfection were local US varieties dating back to at least the fifties. And, digging further, that PI 180693 is Hohenheimer Pink-Flowered, which the original USDA plant introduction book reveals was one of a big batch of seeds that came from Germany in 1949:

From Germany. Seeds presented by the Biparte Control Office, Food, Agriculture, and Forestry Group, Frankfurt. Received Apr. 20, 1949.

Quite a backstory to our promising new little pea line. If people understood that a bit better, maybe they’d understand better why something like the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture is needed. And why you need genebanks.1 And that if you’re going to want varieties able to grow in what climatic conditions will be like twenty years hence, you’d better start now. But try and put all that into a press release.

  1. With decent documentation systems. []

2 Replies to “Pea soup”

  1. Luigi: This is very interesting from my `spoils of war’ view of genetic resource movement. Most of the samples on the link to PI Vol 157 are soybean lines from Giessen sent in 1949 from the `Bipartite Control Office’ in Frankfurt. That is, the USA and UK office running a post-war Germany. These, and probably the Fiskeby soybeans from Sweden, may have contributed to the vast exports of soybean from the US to East Asia, only recently dented by equally vast exports from South America as Latin countries played catch-up. Probably the best example of the advantages for food security of crop introduction.
    A by-product of the `spoils of war’ was the excellent `Useful Plants of Guam’ by Safford (a lieutenant in the US Navy). Guam (I think once a Spanish colony) was sitting in the Pacific between the Spanish possessions in the Americas and the Philippines and getting crops from both sides. The US Philippines `spoils of war’ contributed lots of species to at least three gardens of economic plants in Central America (Summit, CATIE, and Lancetilla). I am all in favour of this type enterprise: I once tried and failed to germinate 60-year old seed from German colonial economic botany collections then in Nairobi but originally from the research Station at Amani in German East Africa.

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