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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Case for Multiple-Use Plant Germplasm Collections and a Strategy for Implementation.

Authors
item Greene, Stephanie
item Morris, John

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2001
Publication Date: June 20, 2001
Citation: Greene, S.L. and J.B. Morris. 2001. The case for multiple-use plant germplasm collections and a strategy for implementation. Crop Sci. 41:886-892

Interpretive Summary: Germplasm collections are a source of genetic diversity to support crop improvement and botanical research, as well as support conservation efforts. Despite patterns of use that indicate that gene source and wild species are requested as frequently as cultivated species in NPGS collections that are taxonomically diverse, the contents of most NPGS collections continue to reflect the historic objectives of plant introduction. Narrow germplasm collections are limited in their ability to meet the needs of diverse users and have limited function conserving plant biodiversity. This article outlines how curators can diversify germplasm collections so that they effectively serve users and contribute to conservation, yet remain a size that ensures effective maintenance of accessions. First, curators must define the overall scope of the collection. A taxonomically diverse collection (that still falls within the scope)is then defined with relatively few accessions. However, accession representation is increased for characters or species that are of specific interest to users or that require protection. Accession representation in areas of interest would be dynamic, reflecting the changing needs of users and conservation. A diverse group of stakeholders is charged with the task of working together to establish priorities that can be used to guide the development of multiple-use collections that contain manageable numbers of accessions.

Technical Abstract: Germplasm collections are viewed as a source of genetic diversity to support crop improvement and botanical research, as well as support conservation efforts. The USDA's National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) is responsible for managing plant genetic resources in the United States. Despite patterns of use that indicate that gene source and wild species are requested as frequently as cultivated species in NPGS collections that are taxonomically diverse, the contents of most NPGS collections continue to reflect the historic objectives of plant introduction. Narrow germplasm collections are limited in their ability to meet the needs of diverse users and have limited function conserving plant biodiversity. This article outlines a model that can be used to diversify germplasm collections so that they effectively serve users and contribute to conservation, yet remain a size that ensures effective maintenance of accessions. The model is first developed by carefully defining the overall scope of the collection. A taxonomically broad-base collection that falls within the scope of the collection is then defined with relatively few accessions. However, accession representation is increased for characters or species that are of specific interest to users or that require protection. Accession representation in areas of interest would be dynamic, reflecting the changing needs of users and conservation. A diverse group of stakeholders is charged with the task of working together to establish priorities that can be used to guide the development of multiple-use collections that contain manageable numbers of accessions.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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