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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Plant Genetic Resource Acquisition and Conservation Strategies, International Germplasm ... for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System

Location: National Germplasm Resources

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Apply the expert knowledge of project staff, Crop Germplasm Committees (CGCs), National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) curators, scientific literature, and GIS and other analyses of national and international databases to identify and prioritize strategic gaps in NPGS crop collections, and facilitate the acquisition of the genetic resources needed to fill those gaps. 1a) Conduct systematic and ecogeographical analyses to identify key gaps in NPGS collections, prioritize acquisitions needed to fill those gaps, and identify opportunities for acquisition. 1b) Develop linkages between NPGS genebanks and federal and state landholding agencies to preserve in in situ reserves native taxa related to the crop species..
2)Maintain and augment GRIN-Taxonomy for Plants, an online database for validated, standard botanical and cultivated scientific plant names, taxonomic classifications, and associated data. Expand the nomenclatural, classificatory, and ecogeographical information available for crop wild relatives. 2a) Provide accurate scientific plant names in GRIN/GRIN-Global, incorporating new data on classification, synonymy, geographical distributions, economic impacts, and common names that reflect current literature. 2b) Promote global usage of GRIN taxonomic data among genetic resource managers and other agricultural workers. 2c) Expand GRIN taxonomic data on wild relatives of crops..
3)Foster plant genetic resource conservation and sustainable use by facilitating the international export of NPGS germplasm, and by establishing innovative international partnerships to enhance plant genetic resource conservation capacities. Establish and maintain partnerships in developing countries that provide access to their plant genetic resources, both ex situ and in situ, by NPGS-funded plant explorers. These partnerships are to enhance donor nations’ capacity to conserve, document, and use genetic resources. 3a) Establish and maintain partnerships in developing countries which provide access to their plant genetic resources, both ex situ and in situ, by NPGS-funded plant explorers. These partnerships are to enhance donor nations' capacity to conserve, document, and use genetic resources. 3b) In collaboration with the USDA-APHIS and DHS/Customers and Border Patrol/Airport Inspection Service, facilitate the import of plant genetic resources and accompanying documentation from donor countries, and the export of NPGS germplasm to other countries, as part of international plant exhanges..
4)Serve as coordinator and secretariat for the 42 Crop Germplasm Committees who collectively provide technical input for NPGS plant genetic resource management plans and priorities, and catalyze a greater awareness of current genetic resource management efforts for these crops.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Crops will be reviewed for germplasm gaps in the general order of economic value. On a crop-by-crop basis all taxa related to the crop under study and their relative importance as potential donors of genes for crop improvement will be identified. Gaps will then be identified and prioritized. This list will then be reviewed to determine if some or all of them can be acquired through exchange or if collection from in situ populations is needed. Once geographic areas are identified from which collections are needed, countries in which access to genetic resources is likely will be determined. The assessment will be sent to the NPGS crop curators and the appropriate CGCs for validation and modification. To maintain GRIN-Taxonomy for Plants the latest taxonomic literature will be monitored through routine searches to detect any changes to existing taxonomic classification or nomenclature for possible adoption in GRIN/GRIN-Global. All data will be documented by references cited in GRIN. Employing the definitions of genetic-relative classes, CWR classification will be developed for each crop based on thorough review of all pertinent taxonomic and phylogenetic literature, as well as similar review of the plant-genetic, plant-breeding, or other crop-science literature. Working directly with representatives of the federal and state land-managing agencies, this project will develop formal non-funded, interagency agreements to establish in situ reserves for target populations of crop wild relatives on land protected by the agencies. Non-monetary benefits will be negotiated and provided to countries that give prior informed consent for access to their plant genetic resources. The nature of such small-scale projects will be highly variable, but possibilities include funding of an evaluation and regeneration project in the host country for the collected germplasm, local or international training in genebank related activities, and the purchase of laboratory, field, or data processing equipment for the genebank or host institution. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued permits for non-regulated nursery stock, small seed lots without a phytosanitary certificate, and herbarium specimens will be maintained to facilitate the import of germplasm for the NPGS. Instruction sheets on Import/Export procedures and proper shipping of germplasm to the NPGS will also be regularly updated and made available to NPGS personnel. Regular communications with Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection and APHIS on importing plants will also be maintained. Export of NPGS germplasm to researchers and educators worldwide will be supported by facilitating the agriculture inspections and issuance of phytosanitary certificates by APHIS, and shipping the germplasm to the final destination. This project will also coordinate and participate in the annual meetings of the CGC Chairs, maintain documentation of the activities of CGCs (minutes, membership rosters, crop vulnerability reports, etc.), and serve as a liaison between CGCs and ARS leadership to highlight issues and concerns related to plant genetic resources.


3.Progress Report:
NPGS germplasm needs for major U.S. crops are being reviewed by compiling origin and improvement status data for the NPGS accessions of the crop and their related species. These are being compared with Germplasm Resources Information Network inventory and geographical range records for these taxa. The documents are subsequently sent to the appropriate Crop Germplasm Committee for review, then placed on the CGC webpage and accessible to the public. From April to September 2013, 10 international and domestic explorations were coordinated and new plant exploration proposals for fiscal year 2014 were received. After review for completeness, the new proposals were sent to the Plant Exploration subcommittee to evaluate their scientific merit and probability of success. These accessions are new sources of genetic diversity that will be entered into the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System and subsequently made available for crop breeding and other research to scientists worldwide. Benefit sharing with the host countries for foreign explorations included sharing of germplasm, purchase of equipment, and training of scientists. The existing collaborative projects in Albania, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, Sorth Korea and Ukraine were maintained and supported. Support was maintained for germplasm collection and conservation activities of native U.S. Fraxinus species, which are severely threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer. Numerous adjustments were made to GRIN taxonomy data, including the addition of more than 5,000 distribution, 5,000 literature, 150 common name, and 800 economic use records. Modifications to more than 25,000 existing records have also been made in preparation for the migration of these data to the GRIN-Global platform. For the first time, a database of the nearly 7,400 such proposals submitted since 1900 has been created, which will be used to provide a hardcopy and on-line reference to the 5,200 names in the Appendices for the 2012 International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants. PEO assisted in the distribution of NPGS genetic resources to researchers in different countries throughout the world, and in the importation of shipments of germplasm from different foreign countries for U.S. researchers and the National Plant Germplasm System. Collaboration between ARS and the U.S. Forest Service on the development of complementary in situ and ex situ conservation programs continued with the preparation of a joint strategy document, currently under administrative review. A protocol for the selection and establishment of in situ reserves for Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) was developed and implemented. Crop Germplasm Committees (CGCs) activities continued to be coordinated, supported and participated in through this project.


4.Accomplishments
1. Identifying gaps in our plant germplasm collections. NPGS germplasm needs assessments for: Cucumber (Cucumis sativus), Melon (Cucumis melo), and Squash/Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata, and C. pepo) initiated under the former project were completed and distributed to the Cucurbit Crop Germplasm Committee for review under the newly established project. They were subsequently placed on the CGC webpage and accessible to the public. Identified and prioritized germplasm gaps support the efficient and effective collection and exchange of genetic resources which better support research and breeding activities.

2. Explorations for plant genetic resources to conserve for current and future generations. From April to September 2013, 10 explorations were coordinated. In cooperation with host country institutions, explorations took place in Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Seven explorations also took place in the United States. Germplasm samples collected are genetic resources of carrot, fruits, nuts, potato, sunflower, herbaceous and woody ornamentals, new crops, and ash. These accessions are new sources of genetic diversity that will soon be available for crop breeding and other research to scientists worldwide. Benefit sharing with the host countries for foreign explorations included sharing of germplasm, purchase of equipment, and training of scientists.

3. Sharing plant material with researchers, breeders, and educators. From April to September 2013 PEO assisted in the distribution of approximately 350 shipments containing about 49,000 packets of NPGS genetic resources to researchers in 33 different countries throughout the world, and in the importation of 6 shipments of germplasm from 4 different foreign countries for U.S. researchers and the National Plant Germplasm System. Making germplasm readily available to scientists worldwide for use in crop production and basic research is the most important justification for crop conservation.

4. Internationally recognized resource for plant taxonomy of agricultural plants. Approximately 3,500 taxon records were updated in GRIN Taxonomy during the last half of FY13. Around 350 of these were new additions to GRIN. These included accommodating additional accessions from the Seeds of Success project of the Bureau of Land Management and the ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station. Correct classification and naming of germplasm accessions is critical for optimally curating and utilizing them. Many genebanks, research organizations and individuals worldwide now routinely utilize the information in GRIN Taxonomy.


Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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