MORP DNA Results of Historic Apple Trees

 

MORP DNA results of 489 apple leaf samples collected by MORP and submitted to the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation for identification, sorted by name. Click the arrows at the bottom of the document to scroll through all pages or click the link to see full document. MORP DNA Results_name
 http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MORP-DNA-Results_name.pdf

MORP DNA results of 489 apple leaf samples sorted by tree ID number. Click the arrows at the bottom of the document to scroll through all pages or click the link to see full document. MORP DNA results_treeID
 http://montezumaorchard.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/MORP-DNA-results_treeID.pdf 

Details:

  • 58 named cultivars
  • 34 unknown cultivar matches to other samples – likely named cultivars not in ARS dataset
  • 103 unique unknown cultivars – some are likely seedlings. However, MORP took care to collect from grafted – not seedling trees – so many of these unique unknowns are also likely named historic cultivars not listed in the ARS dataset
  • 195 cultivars in total out of 489 MORP samples

Testing made possible by a 2015 Colorado USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant award to MORP


Historic Apple Cultivar Identification Using DNA Fingerprinting Techniques by Gayle Volke, USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (article from MORP 2016 newsletter) 

Apple cultivars are traditionally vegetatively propagated by grafting; many apple cultivars have been sold and exchanged over the centuries. During the American homestead era, apple trees were planted on properties as part of the process of cultivating the land. Cultivars purchased as grafted trees from nurseries often had desirable traits, such as large, higher quality fruit that could be eaten fresh, stored for extended lengths of time, or used for cider production. Trees planted from seeds often did not exhibit desirable traits for fresh consumption, and were instead used primarily for cider. Many historic apple cultivars remain available today as grafted trees in national and private collections. In fact, DNA genetic fingerprinting techniques have been used to develop a database of fingerprints of materials in the USDA collection for use in unknown cultivar identification.


An informal collaboration among the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project, historic orchards of Wyoming (both through USDA Specialty Crop Research Grants), Yosemite and Redwood National Parks, as well as El Dorado National Forest is underway to identify locally important historic apple cultivars. This effort seeks to use known historic cultivars in the USDA- ARS National Plant Germplasm System Apple Collection—as well as selected varieties in collections at Washington State University and the Temperate Orchard Conservancy (Oregon)—as standards to determine the identities of unknown apples.


Leaf tissue from key historic apple trees was sent to the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colorado. A graduate student from the University of Wyoming has been extracting DNA from these leaf samples and will be preparing the extracts for fingerprinting analyses. Molecular markers, termed “microsatellites”, will be used to compare the genetic identities of the unknown (or tentatively named) cultivars to those in known collections. We hope to be able to identify many of the grafted materials that were previously unknown. This method of genetic testing will only yield cultivar names for grafted varieties; therefore, historic trees that originated from seedling sources will likely remain unidentified.

Publications that relate to this work are: One is a publication by Kanin Routson, Ann Reilley, Adam Henk and Gayle Volk titled “Identification of Historic Apple Trees in the Southwestern United States and Implications for Conservation” (HortScience 2009. 44:589-594) and another was  published by Gayle Volk and Adam Henk “Historic American Apple Cultivars: Identication and Availability” (J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 2016. 141:292-301).

Preservation through Documentation

Historic Orchards Mapped by MORP

Click here to expand map view.

Please take a virtual tour or some of Colorado’s historic orchards. DO NOT VISIT THESE ORCHARD LOCATIONS WITHOUT CONTACTING MORP FIRST TO RECEIVE ORCHARD OWNER PERMISSION.

MORP Mapping and Database Workflow in Brief

Preservation through Documentation: MORP maps historic orchards using GIS methods backed up by old fashioned, hand drawn grid maps. In addition to old trees we map associated historical features such as homestead houses and cellars, and tools of the trade like presses, boxes, and ladders. Ideally, even before mapping work begins, MORP creates an orchard narrative to include contact information, general condition of the orchard, and most importantly interview notes with the orchard owner capturing as much historical information connected to the orchard site as possible. Memories of orchard owners and their families have become as important to us as the rare genetics; together they create a powerful story. All this information is collected on paper and entered into the MORP Orchard Database along with GPS points, field notes, historical research, and photographs. We automatically back up our work on external drives several times a day.

MORP’s Tools of the TradeFileMaker Platform ~ This is a powerful software for creating custom databases and apps that work seamlessly across iPhone, iPad, Windows, Mac, and the Web. MORP currently has an individual FileMaker Pro license, and wonders if a Team Cloud option might be a good choice to best collaborate and share information with fellow fruit explorer groups. MORP uses Filemaker to manage several databases such as the MORP Orchard Database as described above, and our Old Colorado Apples Database where we collect information on all varieties historically grown in Colorado to include their current status of lost, endangered, rare, or common; and whether they are available, and if so, where. We also manage and organize our photos using FileMaker. We use a unique 7 digit identifier beginning with three unique letter combinations to connect all data from each individual orchard to it’s associated record/orchard number. On our mobile devices we use FileMaker Go app to collect information in the field.

Arrow 100 Subfoot GNSS ~ MORP recently switched from using an outdated, professional grade, handheld GPS unit to using a high accuracy GNSS receiver with iPhone as the collection device . Although our old unit worked fine, the software to go along with it was no longer supported. Also, we are able to get back to source tree with ease and accuracy using this new workflow; before, we often had to refer to our hand drawn maps to best get back to point.

From our research, mobile device paired via bluetooth with GNSS is the trend now that high accuracy, real time, world wide receivers have become affordable; and applications on mobile device now can keep your collection software from becoming outdated. Esri Collector app on mobile device is used to upload maps on mobile to collect your data in the field such as feature ID, coordinates, field notes, and photos. In order to use Esri Collector you need to have an Esri Online account and possibly ArcGIS Desktop to customize your data collection field attributes, create maps, and manage and analyze data; ArcDesktop is the foundation application for our GIS work. If you are a Mac user you will need to install Parallels or similar software to run ArcDesktop on Mac. If you are a non-profit an annual license for ArcGIS is very affordable. Multiple users can be added which might be something for fellow fruit explorer groups to consider to best collaborate and share information. 

MORP fellow fruit exploring groups in Colorado are Apple Core Project in Norwood, Widespread Malus and the Boulder Apple Tree Project in Boulder, and Heritage Fruit Tree Project in Basalt. We hope you are as heritage-fruit-crazy as we all are! Really, every historic fruit district in Colorado, and nearly every state in our union, needs at least one orchard project. Get started today!