Germplasm Added to National Collection
By David Elstein
May 1, 2002
The National Animal Germplasm Program
(NAGP) has officially added swine to its collection, a decision that could lead
to better-quality animals and ultimately to improved pork products for
In 1990, Congress mandated NAGP to be part of the
Agricultural Research Services
National Genetics Resources Program. Located at the
National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo.,
NAGP received its first germplasm entry-- 40 chicken lines--in 2000.
Industry consolidation has led to concerns about less genetic diversity in
swine. By collecting swine germplasm, NAGP will help provide breeders with the
genetic tools necessary to develop animals with disease resistance and other
important traits, according to NAGP coordinator Harvey Blackburn. Researchers
are also starting a national breed survey and have developed software to sample
breeds. They are actively sampling two breeds a year and hope to repeat this
process every 10 years.
Research is also being conducted to improve germplasm cryopreservation, a
process in which semen is preserved at extremely low temperatures. Semen that
has undergone current techniques for cryopreservation results in very low
conception rates and small litter size, compared to industry norms.
NAGP helps coordinate research related to germplasm preservation, including
enhancement of long-term germplasm storage, investigation of the effects of
long-term storage on sperm and embryo viability and improved understanding of
why certain semen will not successfully freeze. Within NAGP, there are also
committees studying proper storage of germplasm for beef and dairy cattle,
small ruminants and aquacultured species.
More information about the program is available at:
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.