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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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ARRA - National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Fort Collins, Colorado

Contractor Information

Related Links

Link to ARS Recovery Act Info.

Link to USDA Recovery Act Info.

Link to White House's site.

Photo: Seeds

Seeds of many agronomically important plants are stored for their genetic diversity.

National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Fort Collins, Colorado

  • Scope of work under Recovery Act

Amount: $290,000

Replacement of cooling towers, heat exchangers, and lighting systems serving research facility.

September 2009 - Construction contract awarded for $145,135 to replace lighting systems
Construction contract awarded for $151,584 to replace the cooling tower and heat exchangers

Construction Photos

Research at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation

The National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) is one of the largest and highest quality genebanks in the world. It preserves more than 500,000 samples of genetic materials of crops, livestock, and agriculturally important microbes. It is the storehouse of plants and livestock that researchers from all over the world turn to when they need the building blocks–the genes--to breed a solution to the new problem.such as when a pathogen mutates or when a new pest appears.

NCGRP’s staff have also developed state-of-the-art storage technologies now being used around the world to preserve seeds and agricultural materials to preserve our agricultural heritage.

For example, when potato late blight–which caused the Irish potato famine–was found in the United States in 1992, researchers turned to the ARS plant germplasm collection to find resistance to the this virulent pathogen. A wild potato relative Solanum pinnatisectum from the ARS germplasm system, collected in central Mexico, had genetic resistance to the disease. Defender, the first potato resistant to late blight was released by ARS in 2005.

The NCGRP base collection has more than 505,000 plant samples and almost 10,000 animal samples representing an incredible heritage for the future and an important piece of global food security.

Maintaining a Fort Knox for agriculturally important plants and livestock is preserving the past so that the genetic resources are available in the future when we need them

Plant Collections

Seed in the plant base collection comes from USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) regional or crop specific field sites. At the field sites, seeds are dried to ambient conditions and cleaned to remove empty seeds and chaff. A sample of seed from each accession is retained at the field site for regeneration, multiplication, distribution, characterization and evaluation and comprises an active collection. The NPGS base collection contains all the inventories of each accession including the original sample and earlier regenerations. This consolidated collection of all of NPGS holdings is stored at the NCGRP in secure freezers at -18·C. The viability of stored seeds is periodically monitored using standard germination assays. A fresh sample of seed is obtained if seed supply is too low or germination percent decreases below about 60%. A fresh inventory usually contains between 1500 and 3000 seeds.

As of July 1, 2008 the NCGRP base collection consisted of:

  • Number of samples 505,770
  • Number of unique accessions 384,876
  • Number of genera 1,180
  • Number of species 6,968
  • Number of seed accessions 380,727

Animal Collections

  • Dairy Cattle: 3,441 individuals in the collection
  • Beef Cattle: 2,632 individuals in the collection
  • Sheep: 1,698 individuals in the collection
  • Chicken: 1,402 individuals in the collection
  • Pig: 1,129 individuals in the collection
  • Aquatic Freshwater Fish: 640 individuals in the collection
  • Goat: 297 individuals in the collection
  • Aquatic Invertebrates: 209 individuals in the collection
  • Aquatic Marine Fish: 15 individuals in the collection
  • Bison: 73 individuals in the collection
  • Screwworm: 10 individuals in the collection
  • Elk: 4 individuals in the collection

Genebanking is really an investment for the future. The investment will pay off if we can anticipate the needs of tomorrow's ever-expanding genebank users and develop genebank strategies that satisfy those needs in an economical way. Successful genebanking requires linking a physical sample with accurate information about it, and then making sure that the stored sample retains the same properties as the material from which it originated.

Five strategies are being pursued aimed at improved genebanking:

  • Maintaining biological integrity
  • Sampling representatively to accommodate current and anticipated uses and multiple conservation targets
  • Providing annotation that authenticates, calibrates and characterizes samples
  • Integrating information systems
  • Providing germplasm with validated phenotypic and genetic descriptions

Project Photographs Before Construction

Repairs to be done in Ft. Collins Repairs in Ft. Collins
Repairs needed in Ft. Collins  

Last Modified: 11/30/2015
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