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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PLANT GENETIC RESOURCE AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The long-term objectives of this project are to acquire, conserve, evaluate, characterize, document and distribute high-quality plant genetic resource (PGR) collections and associated information for research applications to support sustainable agricultural productivity. Objective 1: Strategically expand the genetic diversity in genebank collections and improve associated information for priority maize, oilseed, vegetable, pseudocereal, forage, woody ornamental, medicinal, bioenergy, and other specialty and industrial crop genetic resources. Objective 2: Conserve and regenerate priority maize, oilseed, vegetable, pseudocereal, forage, woody ornamental, medicinal, bioenergy, and other specialty and industrial crop genetic resources efficiently and effectively, and distribute pathogen-tested samples and associated information worldwide. Objective 3: Strategically characterize (“genotype”) and evaluate (“phenotype”) priority Zea (maize and wild relatives), Daucus, Helianthus, Coriandrum, Echinacea, Hypericum, and Melilotus genetic resources for molecular markers, morphological descriptors, taxonomic verification, and key agronomic or horticultural traits, such as maize starch content for bioenergy production. Objective 4: Develop superior information management software for optimally supporting the needs of genetic resource curators, researchers, breeders, and other users.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
To accomplish these objectives, USDA-ARS and ISU staff of the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) work collaboratively with the National Germplasm Research Laboratory (NGRL) to acquire and document germplasm in the Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) database, the National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation (NCGRP), and a wide array of researchers and genebank personnel in the U.S. and abroad. Expected outcomes from research and service activities include available, high-quality plant germplasm for distribution; documentation and transfer of evaluation and characterization information that enables targeting of PGR to meet research objectives; improved information management tools to support curatorial, research and other germplasm user-community needs.


3.Progress Report
This is the third progress report of Project 3625-21000-053-00D, initiated on 04/14/2008. Many of the activities are seasonal and overlap fiscal years. Cold, wet spring weather delayed or hurt much of the vegetable plantings; all plantings were severely damaged by a July 17th storm with 75 mph straight line winds, heavy rain, and subsequent heavy rains and flooding. About 590 new accessions were acquired. Since August 1, 2009, 1056 accessions of maize, vegetables, ornamentals and other crops were planted for regeneration; 1201 accessions were harvested; about 4.5% of collection holdings were tested for viability; 2026 accessions from all crops were backed up at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO and 1,545 deposited for backup at Svalbard, Norway. Nearly 3,000 crop data descriptors were loaded to the GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) system, and 1,397 plant or seed images were captured. Cryogenic storage protocols for Fraxinus (ash) buds, developed in collaboration with the NCGRP, are complete. The ability to store buds for future use may be critical if ash trees threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer cannot be maintained in the field. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is complete; an SCA was established to facilitate publication and dissemination. Evaluation data are being collected for 2010 increases and observation plantings. Wild Helianthus is being evaluated for resistance to Sclerotinia rot – 250 accessions were tested in the greenhouse and 25 advanced to field trials at two locations. Collaborative Daucus characterization and taxonomic identification are under way. All of the available maize inbreds (about 2750) are being evaluated phenotypically by teams in Ames, IA, Raleigh, NC, Columbia, MO, and Ithaca, NY, and genetically characterized. Record numbers of seed requests are anticipated for a fifth consecutive year. For the period August 1, 2009 to July 2, 2010: 30,101 germplasm items were distributed of 15,237 unique accessions to 948 recipients; 74% of the germplasm was requested by U.S. and 26% by international researchers. Maize comprised nearly 1/2 all orders; lines with recently expired plant variety protection certificates are popular. Vegetables comprised about 25% of all distributions. Large numbers of sunflower, other oilseeds, spinach, and melons, and woody ornamentals used in the NC7 Regional Trials were distributed. The development of the replacement for the GRIN system, GRIN-Global, has been in progress for 30 months. Designed to provide a genebank information management system for the US and all world genebanks, the project is a partnership between the Global Crop Diversity Trust, USDA-ARS, and Bioversity. A Release Candidate was deployed in early 2010, a training session for international system administrators held in March, and a prototype public-facing website demonstrated to stakeholders for their input in July.


4.Accomplishments
1. Targeted germplasm acquisition. Identifying and acquiring sources of new, diverse germplasm for research use is one of the most important functions we fulfill. In FY2010, we acquired 591 new accessions. Of these, 245 were new ornamental and mint-family accessions, including many transferred from collection made by the Department of the Interior’s Seeds of Success (SOS) program in the Western U.S., wild populations of Aronia provided by a Univ. of Connecticut researcher, and Fraxinus accessions, threatened in the U.S. by the Emerald Ash Borer. Madison, WI ARS researchers transferred seed of wild Daucus sp. obtained during their collection effort in Tunisia to Ames. Two Cucumis melo cultivars were obtained via the NCGRP, of value as disease differentials. U.S. explorations for wild sunflower species were highly productive, as were collection trips for medicinal species such as Hypericum (St. John’s Wort) and Prunella. These collections provide the raw materials for identifying new genes, traits, and new combinations that offer performance for crop producers, consumers, and industry.

2. Cryopreservation of vegetative buds in Fraxinus. Development of a reliable protocol for storing Fraxinus buds for future use, a result of collaboration between ARS researchers in Ames, IA and Ft. Collins, CO, has provided a valuable additional tool in the effort to conserve North American ash germplasm in the face of the threat by the Emerald Ash Borer.

3. Evaluation of wild sunflower for resistance to Sclerotinia stalk rot. ARS researchers in Ames, IA and Fargo, ND, funded by the USDA Sclerotinia Initiative, demonstrated that the greenhouse screening methods they developed correlate well with field screening results, and identified sources of wild sunflower with high level of resistance. These successful inoculation and diagnostic methods will serve as valuable tools for development of resistant sunflower varieties, as plant researchers cannot rely on natural infestation methods to serve their needs.

4. Screening the Cucumis melo (melon) collection for seed transmission of the bacterial fruit blotch pathogen, Acidovorax avenae subsp. citrulli. Completion of the screening of the 2300 accessions of melon enables distribution of disease-free seeds, thus ensuring that only healthy, bacteria-free plant propagules are shared and protecting producers from unwanted, damaging infestations of this pathogen.

5. Development of GRIN-Global, Successor to GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network). During the past 30 months, much progress has been made in developing a genebank information management (IM) system that will replace the U.S. GRIN system and provide a system for any of the world's genebanks that require IM tools to manage information associated with their collections. The USDA-ARS, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and Bioversity International formed a partnership toward this end. Working with a team of international genebank managers, bioinformaticists, and IT Specialists, database schema enhancement needs were identified and fully addressed. All tables in classic GRIN were systematically reviewed, and changes incorporated into the second GRIN-Global release candidate. A training session for international system administrators was conducted in March, with Ames, IA and Beltsville, MD ARS personnel providing training and collecting stakeholders input. When complete at the end of 2010, the modular system can be readily implemented by any genebank, the source code will be freely distributed, and the world's genebank information records will be more secure.

6. Transfer of Plant Germplasm and Associated Information. Access to unique, well-characterized plant genetic resources is key for successful cultivar development, crop improvement, utilization and economic development. For the period August 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010: 30,101 germplasm items were distributed of 15,237 unique accessions to 948 recipients; 74% of the germplasm was requested by U.S. and 26% by international researchers. Maize comprised nearly 1/2 all orders; lines with recently expired plant variety protection certificates are popular. Vegetables comprised about 25% of all distributions. Large numbers of sunflower, other oilseeds, spinach, and melons, and woody ornamentals used in the NC7 Regional Trials were distributed. The impact of these distributions is realized through the applications, inventions and research accomplished by the resource requestors; impact may be realized via development of improved disease or resistance, agronomics, compositional, or aesthetic traits.


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Management Unit personnel mentored American Indian Student interns interested in plant science and bioinformatics for the fifth summer. These students worked with the maize collection, the MaizeGDB (genome database), and medicinal and Brassica plant research. This effort is supported by an outreach component of an NSF grant "Plant Genetics and Genomics Outreach to Native Americans", by ARS, and by the George Washington Carver Intern Program managed by Iowa State University's Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Studies (MANRRS) program personnel.


Last Modified: 12/25/2014
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