JARS v37n4 - Report of Research Committee

Report of Research Committee
August E. Kehr, Hendersonville, North Carolina


I. Background
The Research Committee has functioned as such since 1970 when it was initiated by President Carl Phetteplace. Some of the main accomplishments in the past have been:

A.  Sponsored 14 small research grants in 1975 from funds obtained from profits of the Seed Exchange. Results have been appearing in our Journal for several years.

B.  Sponsored International Rhododendron Meeting in New York in 1976 which set the groundwork for a botanically-sound Rhododendron classification system.

C.  Sponsored the formation of the American Rhododendron Society's Research Foundation on March 13, 1976.

D.  Under the auspices of the Research Foundation has completed (or nearly so) 3 projects:

1.  Provided part of the funds for translation of original Chinese for manuscript of the book "Rhododendrons in China."

2.  Funded project to study petal blight of azaleas, which resulted in information that provided the first effective control of this disease. Results have been published.

3.  Funded project to conduct research designed to resolve the problem of proper nomenclature for the carolinianum-minus-chapmanii complex. This study nearing completion with the granting of a doctorate degree to a student at North Carolina State University and publication of the results thereafter. The student has told us that he could not have conducted this research without the ARS grant for out of state travel.

E. Sponsored 6 projects in 1982 on various problems of rhododendrons and azaleas. These are as follows:

1.  A Biosystematic Study of Rhododendron occidentale (T & G) Gray. Dr. Robert Stockhouse, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR.

2.  The Timing of Microsporogenesis in Deciduous Azaleas. Dr. Mark Widrlechner, Dept. of Horticulture, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN.

3.  Integrated Biological and Chemical Control of Phytophthora Root Rot of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Mr. W.H. Willis, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA.

4.  Dieback of Landscape Azaleas with Special Reference to Phomopsis Canker. Dr. J.T. Walker, Dept. of Plant Pathology, Georgia Agriculture Experiment Station, Experiment, GA.

5.  Investigations on the Use of Organic Soil Amendments for the Control of Phytophthora Root Rot of Azaleas. Mr. Peter H. Tsao, Dept. of Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside, CA. (A biological or non-chemical control for this disease is being sought under this grant.)

6. Influence of Nitrogen Nutrition on Flower Bud Initiation of Rhododendrons. Dr. Robert D. Wright, Dept. of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA. (Soil chemicals such as phosphorus are known to have influence on bud initiation, but the influence of nitrogen is not understood well.)

II. Grants To Be Funded In 1983
A total of 27 proposals for research were received in 1983. These were evaluated by the Research Committee and presented to the Trustees of ARS Research Foundation in priority order for their consideration. The trustees accepted 8 proposals for funding. Those being funded, along with the American Rhododendron Society's cooperator (Chapter Research Chairmen) are as follows:

1. Introduction of Rhododendron Species from China. Dr. Y.C. Ting, Dept. of Biology, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA. (Dr. Ting is native of Honan Province and is an Honorary Research Professor of the National Academy of Sciences in China. Under this grant, covering 2 years, he will enlist cooperators to collect seed. The grant covers part of the travel to China for 2 trips. ARS Cooperator - John Alexander.

2.  Preliminary Chemataxonomic Study of Essential Oil Composition of Selected Lepidote Rhododendrons. Dr. Robert Doss, Ornamentals Plant Research Unit, Western Washington Research & Education Center, Puyallup, WA. (Essential oils confer resistance to black vine beetles. This grant will identify species with these oils and characterize the different oils.) ARS Cooperator - June Sinclair.

3.  Inoculation and Fungicidal Control of Botryosphaeria Dieback of Rhododendrons. Dr. R.C. Lambe and W.H. Wills, Dept. of Plant Pathology and Physiology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA. (Dieback of rhododendrons has reached epidemic proportions throughout the U.S. The reasons are unknown, but control is essential. The dieback is sometimes confused with Phytophthora dieback.) ARS Cooperator - Dr. Sandra McDonald.

4.  Crop Improvement Through Plant Tissue and Protoplast Culture. Dr. Kenneth C. Torres, Dept. of Horticulture, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA. (The Research Committee recommended that this grant be devoted to protoplast culture of rhododendrons, a means whereby only the plant cell contents are cultured. On the forefront of plant research is the fusion of protoplasts from two plants resulting in hybridization of the Vireya rhododendrons with those of other kinds of rhododendrons. This is long term research, but it is important that rhododendrons receive some attention in this exciting new field.) ARS Cooperator - E.J. Aromi.

5.  Breeding Cold Hardy Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Dr. Harold Pellett, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chanhassan, MN. (Minnesota has been a leader in the U.S. in cold hardiness research. Under this grant some of this expertise will be devoted to azaleas and rhododendrons. The Committee recommended that under this grant seed be sent to the Seed Exchange and superior plants to the Rhododendron Species Foundation.) ARS Cooperator - Don Paden.

6.  Sensitivity of Azaleas to Simulated Acidic Rain and Fog. Dr. Andrew L. Granett, Air Pollution Research Center, University of California, Riverside, CA. (No one knows how rhododendrons and azaleas react to acid rain. This will be the first study on this problem. Acid rains occur in many parts of the U.S. and the incidence is on the rise.) ARS Cooperator - Carl Duel.

7.  The Nutritional Role of Calcium in Rhododendron Growth. Dr. Fred R. Davis, Kent, Ohio. (The Committee recommended that this study include magnesium also, and the effect of the elements calcium and magnesium on plant performance. Dr. Davis is an ARS member.) ARS Cooperator - D.L. Hinerman.

8.  Development, Evaluation, and Maintenance of Virus-Free Rhododendrons. Dr. Thomas C. Allen, Dept. of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. (Viruses have been found in rhododendrons, and this research will be the first to evaluate viruses on these plants, as well as to develop virus-free stock. Evaluation of the effect of viruses cannot be done until virus-free plants are developed for making the comparison.) ARS Cooperator - John Burnett.

III. Notes From The Meeting Of The Trustees Of The ARS Research Foundation
The Trustees of the Research Foundation voted to accept the proposal made by Charles Dewey, Piedmont Chapter (and member of the Research Committee), for matching funds for special research desired by a local chapter. Under this new program a local chapter can propose research of specific interest to that chapter by sending in a research proposal to the Research Committee. If this proposal is recommended by the Committee and accepted by the Trustees, the research will be matched dollar for dollar (with some limits) by funds set aside by the local chapter for that special research. The limits on funds provided by the Research Foundation will depend upon the amount of earnings from the endowment fund.

The Trustees also voted to continue an advertisement in the ARS Journal. The ad for 1983-84 will be changed to add information on the things being done under the ARS Research Program and on the above matching funds program.

IV. Notes From The Research Committee
A. Application Forms
Local Chapter Research Chairmen should have copies of application forms for making research proposals. These applications may be sent to researchers in their areas, as well as for use in the matching fund program approved in 1983 by the Trustees of the ARS RF.

B. Speakers for Local Chapter Programs
Local chapters should avail themselves of the opportunity to have recipients of ARS grants speak to their membership. These researchers are usually eager to describe their research, and it offers the membership an opportunity to ask questions and learn the latest developments in the research. It is highly recommended that Chapter Research Chairmen make this information known to their program chairmen for our grant recipients to talk to their chapter.

C. Solicitation of Proposals
Many times local Chapter Research Chairmen will know persons in their region doing research in an area of interest to our membership. In such cases, the Research Chairman should invite that person to apply for a grant, either by giving him an application form or by writing to the Chairman of the ARS Research Committee.