2012 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Serve as the information system for the documentation of plant, insect, animal, and microbial germplasm maintained by the U.S. National Genetic Resources program. Operate and enhance existing databases, create and improve linkages to other genetic resources databases, and share information and technology on documentation of genetic resources collections.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Support will be provided to the existing GRIN databases that serve the National
Genetic Resources Program to ensure that they are functional and relevant to the
needs of collection managers and curators and to the germplasm user community.
Upgrades will be made to the highly specialized application software, as
appropriate, to ensure that it remains compatible with hardware upgrades and that it meets the requirements for germplasm maintenance and documentation and information exchange. Appropriate measures will be taken to ensure security of the databases and the data they contain. Develop the next version of the GRIN software as a scalable portable system capable of being transfered to other genebanks in addition to allowing greater interoperability between genetic resources and biodiversity databases.
The Database Management Unit (DBMU) of the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory provides a central database for the germplasm collections within the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). This central database provides curator software for managing the collections as well as a portal for public access and requesting material. An essential task for the DBMU is to maintain near 24/7 availability of the system. A 98% availability target was met.
In addition to maintaining the servers and current GRIN software, the DBMU is contributing to the development of a new version of the GRIN software (GRIN-Global) with ARS collaborators from the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (Ames, IA), Global Crop Diversity Trust, and Bioversity International. This will be a scalable version of GRIN using open source technology to better service the needs of both the NPGS and the international genetic resource management community. The 2012 phase of the project consisted of refining both the curator tool and public Web site features. This culminated in the release of the first production version 1.0 that was made available to the international community on December 19, 2011. Current efforts are focusing on additional improvement and enhancements that will constitute version 2.0 of the system. Plans are also underway to migrate the NPGS to GRIN Global. Webinar based training sessions are being conducted for NPGS genebank staff and a gap analysis process is underway to determine the unique needs that must be addressed for the NPGS sites to implement GRIN Global.
Improvements to GRIN software. Improvements were made to the existing GRIN curator and public software, including the ability to download a spreadsheet of evaluation data (user selected traits). Most of the staff time for DBMU in 2012 has been oriented toward GRIN-Global development and deployment efforts. Major efforts of the DBMU have been in web development, schema review, training documentation, installation, server hosting and testing of the GRIN-Global software. This ongoing effort is also described in the progress report. A major milestone was the release of the first production version 1.0 on December 19, 2011.
Crop Germplasm Committees. There are 42 CGCs, comprised of public and private sector scientists for a given crop, that comprise a support network for the NPGS. Included among their activities are preparing and updating status/vulnerability reports for their crop(s) and serving as peer reviewers for USDA funded plant exploration and characterization proposals. Twenty-two committees have met (in person or by teleconference) as of July 2012. These CGCs are an integral part of the overall effectiveness of the NPGS.
GRIN database available. The GRIN database was available on a nearly 24/7 basis throughout 2012. Access to the web pages for GRIN included about 2 million visits for the past year, similar to 2011. Our statistics also indicated the average visitor spent 8 minutes at the site and viewed more than 9 different pages. As of June 2012 more than 152,000 germplasm samples have been distributed from the NPGS genebanks, most of them requested on the basis of information made available through GRIN. This ensures timely and comprehensive information on the vast collections of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System are available to researchers worldwide.