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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Discourse on Genebank Curation, Curatorial Load and Management of Human Resources

Author
item Jarret, Robert

Submitted to: Georgia Journal of Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 4, 2006
Publication Date: September 22, 2006
Citation: Jarret, R.L. 2006. A DISCOURSE ON GENEBANK CURATION, CURATORIAL LOAD AND MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES. Georgia Journal of Science. 64:115-130.

Interpretive Summary: The Unites States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and cooperating State land-grant universities support the conservation of plant genetic resources via a series of genebanks that maintain and distribute seed and living material of crop plants and their related spp. The largest of these genebanks is located in Griffin, GA. The Griffin, GA genebank employs 6 curators, each of whom is assigned to a particular crop germplasm collection, or a group of collectoins. These collections vary widely in the resources and technical expertise required to maintain them. This manuscript introduces the concept of Curatorial Load which represents the magnitude of the difficulty and expense associated with collection maintenance. Also discussed are various challenges associated with genebank management and curator evaluation and how changes to genebank organizational structure might be utilized to overcome these.

Technical Abstract: The geneganks that comprise a part of the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) serve to maintain and distribute plant genetic resources that are essential to support crop improvement efforts worldwide. The genebank in Griffin, GA is the largest of these. Individual crop germplasm collections in the Griffin genebank are assigned to curators who are charged with the responsibility of caring for these genetic resources. Due to significant variation in the size and complexity of individual collections, there are inherent difficulties in equitably allocating the work associated with the maintenance of these collections. This manuscript introduces the concept of Curatorial Load (CL) which represents the magnitude of the difficulty and expense associated with collection maintenance. Individual variables that contribute to CL are discussed. Curators perform duties that require significant technical expertise (i.e. research) and little technical expertise (i.e. routine seed regeneration). The disparity in the degree of technical expertise required vs. the technical nature of the task to be performed can be partially justified by the mportance (impact) of the tasks performed. However, there are inherent difficulties associated with the management of human resources given the disparity among curators for their respective CL and for relative amount of time required for the performance of non-technical tasks vs. the utilization of those resources (and time) for more professionally enhancing activities. Means to ameliorate the CL and/or more equitably allocate the CL among curators are discussed.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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