Most of agriculture in the United States is based upon crop plants which are native to other parts of the world. We constantly rely on introduced germplasm to provide new genes to improve our major crops. Recently, there is an increasing and enhanced sensitivity to environmental issues, especially regarding pesticides.
The problem addressed by this project is to preserve and provide genes for specific crop species for such efforts. The germplasm conservation and research activities are consistent with the ARS mission and established priorities. They can be summarized as the collection, preservation, evaluation, and use of plant germplasm. At WRPIS we utilize current technologies and information to best achieve germplasm conservation goals. Acquisition technology has been enhanced recently by use of geographic information systems (GIS) technology and global positioning system (GPS) devices when planning and carrying out collecting trips. Genetic monitoring of regeneration protocols is being enhanced by use of various DNA techniques such as RAPDS, RFLPS, and SSRs, especially when used in conjunction with morphologic genetic markers. Seed storage technology has progressed, and facilities are in place to allow relatively long-term storage of original and regeneration seed lots, as well as seeds of species that do not store well at 4 C, by using sealed packets and a temperature of -18 C.