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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant And Animal Genetic Resources Preservation Research Unit

2009 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The primary goal of the research is to provide safe long-term storage, and to ensure the maximum longevity possible, of stored plant and microbial genetic resources. Over the next five years the Plant Genetic Resources Preservation Program (PGRPP) at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) will focus on the following four, largely non-hypothesis driven, objectives: 1. Long-term preservation of seed genetic resources collections. 2. Develop, adapt, modify and/or apply methods for secure long-term back-up preservation of selected vegetatively-propagated crops, especially Allium, Fragaria, Ipomoea, Humulus, Musa, Prunus, Pyrus, Rubus and Ribes. 3. Initiate comprehensive and strategic long-term secure back-up storage of priority microbial collections, commencing with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Culture Collection in Peoria, Illinois. 4. Conduct collaborations, consultations, coordination, scientific exchanges, targeted training, and technology transfer to promote and facilitate the adoption and application of long-term preservation strategies and technologies in domestic and international genebanks.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
As the guardians of the base collection for the NPGS, the PGRPP has the responsibility of ensuring that the methods employed for long-term preservation of the genetic resources are the best possible for maintaining a viable and healthy collection. The four objectives will accomplish this by: 1. Improving the quality control of the NPGS base collections by upgrading and operating an ongoing program to evaluate and enhance the secure long-term preservation, monitoring, and documentation of seed in the NPGS base collection. 2. Focusing research on the development, adaptation, and/or application of methods for the secure long-term preservation of selected germplasm collections of priority vegetatively-propagated crops. 3. Actively seeking to facilitate and coordinate the back-up of ARS microbial collections at NCGRP in cryogenic storage. 4. Aiding in the building the global infrastructure for genetic research preservation by participation at national and international levels to promote, facilitate and provide the underpinning for a global genetic resources preservation community.

3.Progress Report
This is the first report for the new 5-year project and all milestones have been substantially or fully met. Interestingly, the number of seed samples received for long-term storage was down in 2008. While this was assumed to reflect a decrease in regenerations, looking at the past 10 years there appears to be a trend toward a decrease in the receipt of samples on a 4 year cycle. Due to this decrease in samples received, our process time for routine seed samples (receipt to storage) is now at 2-3 months. The number of seed germination tests done in 2008 which is down from past years due to an unusually high volume of seed needing tetrazolium testing. Good progress continues to be made with the cryopreservation of vegetatively-propagated crops and a large expansion in research into the cryopreservation of dormant bud wood. Long-term storage of native plants continues to grow with a pending Agreement with the BLM Seeds of Success program. The Plant Genetic Resources Program (PGRPP) continued to train visiting scientists, participated in international meetings, coordinated the NPGS participation in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, promoted best practices in genetic resources conservation and supported international efforts in conservation and regeneration of genetic resources. In 2008, 11,738 seed new samples were received for long-term storage at the NCGRP. Of these, 790 samples were clonal material, 5,824 samples were back-up seed samples from the sites, 151 were registrations samples for the Journal of Plant Registrations, 2,039 were from Maize Genetic Stocks, 443 samples were PVP samples, 681 samples were from the Millennium Seed bank and 2.097 samples from CIMMYT. In addition to these samples, the PGRPP also processed and shipped over 20,000 samples to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Seed germinations were done on 16,046 seed samples with 6,857 of these germination tests being monitor tests of seed already in storage. In 2007, the Vegetative Germplasm Preservation Group placed 196 accessions into cryopreservation. The focus on expanding the apple dormant bud cryopreservation protocol on other woody crops continued with success in butternut cryopreservation for three years in a row. In FY 09, the program included work with dormant buds of English walnut, black walnut, butternut, apple, willow, blueberries, hazelnut, almond, currents, sweet cherry and pear. The PGRPP made its goal of receiving and shipping over 20,000 NPGS samples to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The staff of the PGRPP also hosted and organized the 2008 PGOC meeting and the 2009 AOSA meeting and participated in several international meetings as well as CGC meetings.

1. Safeguarding and maintaining the viability of key genetic resources collections in long-term for present and future. The PGRPP continues to receive, place in storage and maintain the base collection of the National Plant Germplasm System in secure long-term storage at -18C and liquid nitrogen. Although the NPGS base collection is of primary concern, safe guarding other national and global collections is also deemed in the best interest of the US for food safety and security. A total of 11,738 seed new samples were placed in long-term storage in 2008 which brought the total number of seed samples curated and in long-term storage at over 750,000.

2. Continuously monitoring the health of the seed samples in long-term storage by monitor testing over 6,800 seed samples in 2008. It is important to understand the life-span of materials in long-term storage to ensure they are regenerated prior to decay. Over 2,550 of the monitor tests were done by the Colorado Seed Lab as part of a Cooperative Agreement #5402-21000-005-01S. Data from these tests are used to estimate the length of time materials remain viable in storage.

3. Research into the development of methods to provide long-term storage of vegetatively-propagated plant genetic resources in liquid nitrogen (cryostorage). Less than 10% of the over 30,000 NPGS vegetatively-propagated accessions are adequately backed-up and most are maintained in single field plots and therefore highly susceptible to loss from pests, diseases and abiotic factors. In 2008 the PGRPP placed 196 accessions of vegetatively-propagated crops into cryopreservation (20 Allium sativum accessions, 26 Fragaria spp. accessions, 4 Humulus spp. accessions, 7 Ipomoea batatas accessions, 2 Musa accessions, 28 Prunus cerasus accessions, 23 Pyrus communis accessions, 22 Ribes spp. accessions, 34 Rubus spp. accessions, 17 Salix spp. Accessions and 13 Solanum tuberosum accessions). The PGRPP also was successful in the development of a cryopreservation system for Juglans cineria, a native nut crop threatened by fungal disease. As a result of this research effort, the NCGRP now has over 4,350 vegetatively-propagated accessions in long-term back-up storage.

4. Coordinated the shipping of over 20,000 accessions from the NPGS to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an international effort to store all plant genetic resources collections of importance to food and agriculture in case of a catastrophe. This effort provides one more level of safety back-up of the NPGS collections and ensures the U.S. participation in global genetic resources efforts.

5. Facilitated the access of plant genetic resources by the distribution of 2161 seed samples to over 70 scientists in 6 countries. The PGRPP also aided in the quarantined grow-out of 605 maize and sorghum samples so that these accessions could be regenerated and distributed. Finally, the PGRPP released and placed into the public domain 155 expired PVP accessions and 254 expired Crop registration accessions so that these accessions could be distributed by the NPGS. The distribution of the genetic resources ensures their use and supports the NPGS foundation that plant genetic resources are a global asset which should be freely-available to all qualified researchers and breeders.

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Staff participated in two workshops with native Indian tribes to help the tribes preserve their plant genetic resources with a focus on the collection and preservation of black ash seed (Agreements # 5402-21000-006-18G, #5402-21000-007-08N).

6.Technology Transfer


Review Publications
Donnelly, L.M., M.M. Jenderek J.P. Prince, P.A. Reeves A. Brown and R.M. Hannan. 2008. Genetic diversity in the USDA Limnanthes germplasm collection assessed by simple sequence repeats. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization 1:33-41.

Jenderek, M.M., Dierig, D.A., Isbell, T. 2009. Fatty acid profile of Lesquerella germplasm in the National Plant Germplasm System collection. Industrial Crops and Products, Vol. 29, Issue 1, pp. 154-164.

Jenderek, M.M., Hannan, R.M. 2009. Diversity in seed production characteristics within the USDA-ARS Limnanthes alba germplasm collection. Crop Science. 49:1387-1394.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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