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Research Abstracts Online
January - December 2011

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
Department of Forest Resources

PI: Andrew J. David

Genetic Conservation of Minnesota’s Ash Resource

The Emerald ash borer (EAB, Agrilus planipennis) is an exotic, invasive insect that threatens all ash (Fraxinus) species in North America. It was first detected in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario in 2002 and has since killed tens of millions of ash trees in 14 states and two provinces. It was identified in Minnesota in 2009. Native ash species have no known resistance to EAB and thus mortality rates could reach 100% in an undetected outbreak in four to six years. These localized extinctions result in the loss of genetic diversity and adaptation to local climate conditions.

The goals of this project are to conserve the genetic variation found in Minnesota’s ash species through seed collection and long-term storage and to evaluate three seed collection strategies to determine which is the most efficient at capturing genetic variation. The researchers have collected seed from 299 green ash (F. pennsylvanica) and 205 black ash (F. nigra) using three different collection strategies: population collections (groups of 20-30 trees from small geographic areas), ecoregion collections (11-15 trees across Omernik Level III ecoregions), and volunteer collections (individual trees scattered across the state). Microsatellite markers from European ash (F. excelsior) will be used to characterize the genetic variation in a subset of the seeds and to determine the efficacy of the three collection strategies.

Group Member

Julie Hendrickson, Graduate Student