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The FPS Rose Collection

The Foundation Plant Services rose collection was established during the 1960s by Dr. George Nyland, a UC Davis plant pathologist. Nyland was convinced that rose mosaic disease was a problem in roses that needed to be addressed by a program of virus testing and heat therapy for virus elimination. When he found an important cultivar infected with rose mosaic, Nyland employed heat therapy, a recently developed virus elimination technique, propagating from plants that were grown at 100°F until he was able to find a healthy version of the cultivar. This work led to the establishment of a virus-tested collection at UC Davis. Budwood from these plants was made available to nurseries and growers to serve as a source of propagating stock. Throughout his career, and even after his retirement in 1985, George Nyland was a tireless advocate of virus-tested planting stock for rose nursery propagation.

By the early 1990s, the FPS rose collection was in need of repropagation and retesting. The plants were aging and less productive, many newer cultivars were not in the collection, and the roses had not been retested for viruses in many years. FPS began working closely with the garden rose nursery industry which led to planting a new foundation rose collection in 1995. This rose collection has become an important resource for nurseries and growers throughout the United States as a reliable source of clean budwood of many major rose cultivars. The current collection covers eight acres and includes more than 800 rose scion and eight understock cultivars - the largest public collection of virus-tested roses in the United States. Each year new cultivars are added to the collection after virus testing and, if necessary, virus elimination treatment.

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Planting virus-tested roses at FPS in Davis, CA

The Heritage Rose Collection at Florida Southern College

The heat-therapy program at Florida Southern College (FSC) was started in 1983 with the objective to rid roses of the viruses causing rose mosaic disease. That program continues, and FSC now has a collection of over 300 rose varieties, mostly "heritage" or "antique" types. FSC is not an NCPN-funded center, and efforts have been made to avoid overlap with the foundation rose collection at the University of California at Davis, which em-phasizes more popular modern hybrids. The FSC collection is used for teaching plant taxonomy, genetics, and horticulture. The collection is maintained in two landscaped gardens, as well as in a range of greenhouses, on the campus in Lakeland, Florida. 

The FSC program has used indexing and testing services at UC Davis and Washington State University for rose mosaic. For the last several years, they have also worked with Dr. Kevin Ong, at Texas A&M University, to test the collection for several minor viruses of roses using PCR techniques. Florida Southern is a private college, with no official mandate to provide propagation material to the nursery industry, but they do it for the love of the roses. Virus-tested rose propagation material has been distributed to at least 22 nurseries in the U.S., as well as to Bermuda, Britain, South Africa, Canada, and Brazil. The older varieties in the FSC Heritage Rose Collection are an important source of genetic material for future rose breeding efforts.

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