2008 Annual Report
Following successful development of cryogenic storage protocols for willow, experiments for cryopreservation of dormant Fraxinus (ash) buds show promise. 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 near completion and should be released in 2008. The review team is finalizing three map versions, a 15 year data set, 30 year data set, and a difference map.
Calendula descriptors were approved and draft Potentilla descriptors developed. Evaluation data is being collected for 2008 increases and observation plantings. A Coriandrum evaluation data set was loaded to GRIN. Wild Helianthus is being evaluated for resistance to Sclerotinia rot. A panel of genetic markers was identified for use with Helianthus pumilis molecular characterization activities. Daucus characterization is in progress.
Record numbers of seed requests have been received for a third consecutive year. For the period April 14-August 1, 2008: 7,650 germplasm items were distributed of 5,480 unique accessions to 337 recipients; about 2/3 of the germplasm was requested by US and 1/3 by international researchers. Maize comprised nearly two-thirds of US orders, and 45% of all orders; lines with recently expired plant variety protection certifications are popular. Large numbers of sunflower, crucifers, spinach, and melons, and woody ornamentals used in the NC7 Regional Trials, were distributed.
The development of the replacement for GRIN, GRIN-Global, is designed to provide a genebank information management system for the US and any genebank in the world. The project is a partnership between the Global Crop Diversity Trust, USDA-ARS, and Bioversity to provide for genebank information management needs. GRIN has been migrated from Oracle to a MySQL database and populated; a prototype web-base client was produced. A website bulletin board was developed for stakeholder input and project communications.
Progress by the Plant Introduction Research Unit Project relates to the NP301 Action Plan, specifically Problem Statements 1A: Efficiently and Effectively Manage Plant and Microbial Genetic Resources, and 1B: Assess the Systematic Relationships and Genetic Diversity of Crop Genetic Resources, and Component 3, Problem Statement 3B, Capitalizing on Untapped Genetic Diversity.
Efforts of the technical review team to develop a new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map are nearing completion. Climatic conditions vary to some degree each year, but the climate changes of the past 20-30 years resulted in a need for development of a new US hardiness zone map that more accurately categorized plant hardiness zones, and also provides a measure of the amount of variation that can occur in any given locality. Using extensive records of US weather data from hundreds of recording locations, the maps compare the impact of climatic conditions from a 15 year set of data with those of a 30 year set, and a graphical interpretation of this data relative to hardiness zones for plant adaptation and winter survival. Release of these maps will aid the nursery industry's efforts to provide appropriate plants for specific areas on a finer scale, and will also aid consumer confidence. This accomplishment falls under NP301 Action Plan, primarily under Problem Statement 1B, Assess the Systematic Relationships and Genetic Diversity of Crop Genetic Resources.2. Development of GRIN-Global, Successor to GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network)
Many of the world's genebanks lack sufficient information management (IM) tools, and find it difficult to manage information associated with the collections. Because of this, and the fact that the current US GRIN system is due for life-cycle enhancements and also recognized as a superior genebank IM system, USDA-ARS, the Global Crop Diversity Trust and Bioversity formed a partnership toward this end. To date, the development team has developed a three –tiered system architecture, migrated the database from Oracle to MySQL, and developed a public-facing website for communication of features and functionalities with stakeholders, and to obtain their input. When complete, 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. This accomplishment relates to NP301 Action Plan, specifically Problem Statements 1A: Efficiently and Effectively Manage Plant and Microbial Genetic Resources.3. 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. From April 14th - August 1st 2008, about 7,650 germplasm items of maize, sunflowers, crucifers, Cucumis, and many other crops, were distributed. They represented 5,480 unique accessions to 337 recipients world-wide, another new record. Maize comprised nearly two-thirds of US orders, and 45% of all orders; lines with recently expired plant variety protection certifications are popular. Large numbers of oilseeds (sunflower and crucifers), spinach, Cucumis (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. This accomplishment relates to the NP301 Action Plan, specifically Component 3, Problem Statement 3B, Capitalizing on Untapped Genetic Diversity.
5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Management Unit personnel mentored American Indian Student interns interested in plant science and bioinformatics for the third summer; this effort is supported by an outreach component of an NSF grant, 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.