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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Station Information
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1 - Station Information
2 - Ordering Germplasm
3 - Station Facts & Purpose
4 - Nine Areas of Conservation
5 - Seed Storage Conditions at NCRPIS
6 - Organization Chart
Nine Areas of Conservation

     
  Acquisition

Germplasm collections at the NCRPIS are acquired primarily through either foreign or domestic plant explorations, or by exchanging with other germplasm banks or collectors. Germplasm acquisition has been fostered by a long-standing tradition of free exchange among plant breeders and other plant scientists. Some germplasm must be observed in quarantine facilities before it is judged healthy and suitable for incorporation into the collection.

 Acquisition
 

Documentation

Identifying information, often termed passport data, generally accompanies an accession. These data are recorded on a NPGS-wide computerized germplasm database, the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) housed in Beltsville, Maryland.



 Perserving information.
 

Multiplication

At the NCRPIS, controlled pollinations are generally used to increase our seed supply. Our controlled pollination program is one of the most extensive in the country, because most of the crops we maintain are cross-pollinated. The controlled pollination program, along with careful harvest techniques, help maintain the original genetic variability and integrity of our accessions. The flowers of maize (corn), pumpkins, forage legumes, and domesticated sunflowers are pollinated by hand. The melons, cucumbers, wild sunflowers, brassicas, carrots, chicory, herbs, and a variety of ornamental species are pollinated by honey bees, flies, or other pollinating insects in field cages.

 Multiplication
  Preservation

Most of the germplasm at the NCRPIS is propagated from seed. Seed supplies are increased when their numbers or germination percentage falls below a predetermined level. Seed is stored in temperature and humidity controlled rooms at 4 deg. C (38 deg. F) and 25% relative humidity. The National Center for Germplasm Resource Preservation (NCGRP) in Fort Collins, Colorado, preserves the base or back-up collection for all the germplasm in the NPGS, including the NCRPIS.

 Preservation
 

Characterization

Analyzing highly heritable traits allows curators to identify unknown accessions (taxonomy), to detect contamination in seed lots (quality assurance), and to monitor the effectiveness of the management program. NCRPIS staff members are also using molecular markers such as isozymes and DNA to study maize (corn), mints, sunflower, and Cuphea.




 Characterization
 

Evaluation

Evaluation includes yield trials, screening for host-plant resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses, and testing for general agronomic merit and adaptation. Germplasm with accurate evaluation data is very useful for crop improvement programs. Many of our crops are evaluated for resistance to insects (sunflower moth,Corn earworm, lygus bug, European corn borer) and disease (Alternaria, Rhizoctonia fruit rot, powdery mildew, rust, smut, Stewart's wilt, Northern leaf blight).


 Evaluation
  Enhancement

Genetic enhancement is a term for such activities as adapting exotic germplasm to grow in areas not normally grown, incorporating high value genes into adapted varieties, and improving agronomic performance. NCRPIS staff members have:

  • Improved native mint family plants for nectar production.
  • Adapted Cuphea to Midwestern growing conditions.
  • Transferred fruit rot resistance to cucumbers.

The NCRPIS has recently joined efforts with the Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) project. The GEM project is a cooperative effort of the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, land-grant universities, and industry. More information is available at the GEM website.


 Enhancement
 

Utilization

Since 1948, the NCRPIS has supplied germplasm that contributed significantly to crop improvement and to basic scientific studies:

  • 'Plainsman', one of the first commercial hybrid amaranths, was derived from Amaranthus germplasm curated by the NCRPIS.
  • The NCRPIS maize (corn) collection has been the source for a wide variety of genes conferring host-plant resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses.
  • Molecular evolutionary studies have been conducted using NCRPIS Cuphea germplasm.
  • Herbicide-resistant accessions were identified in the NCRPIS Cucurbita (squash) collection.

 Utilization
 

Distribution

We distribute small quantities (generally about 100 seeds per accession) of germplasm, seed lists, and other information free of charge to bona fide plant researchers worldwide. We ask the recipients to send us information regarding the material's utility for crop improvement or scientific research. The National Center for Germplasm Resource Preservation (NCGRP) in Fort Collins, Colorado, preserves the base or back-up collection for all the germplasm in the NPGS, including the NCRPIS. To order seeds or plants, contact us by letter or email.

 Distribution
 
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Last Modified: 6/25/2013
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