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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PREDICTING INTERACTIVE EFFECTS OF CO2, TEMPERATURE, AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS ON AGRICULTUAL PRODUCTIVITIY

Location: Plant Physiology and Genetics Research

Title: Improving Published Descriptions of Germplasm.

Authors
item White, Jeffrey
item Dierig, David

Submitted to: Journal of Plant Registrations
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 1, 2011
Publication Date: July 14, 2011
Citation: White,J.W., Dierig,D.A. 2011. Improving published descriptions of germplasm. Journal of Plant Registrations. 5:1-9.

Interpretive Summary: Researchers publish descriptions of new crop varieties, and special research germplasm, in scientific journals such as the Journal of Plant Registrations (JPR). These publications are important vehicles for allowing researchers and other interested parties to learn about new materials, as well as the breeding methods used to generate them. Launched in 2007, JPR introduced a new paper format intended to provide more useful and reliable information for readers. To test whether the new format was having the desired effect, we assessed 172 papers from volumes 1 and 2 of JPR, which included both formats. We used criteria for descriptions of genealogies, breeding process, phenotypes, genotypes, seed distribution, and alternate information sources such as databases and the Internet. Information content increased with the new format for nine of 19 criteria for phenotypic data. The new format also favored presentation of data with information on statistical tests, which are used to examine whether new varieties truly performed better than existing materials. Only 54 papers presented genetic data and of these, 46 dealt with single traits. Sixteen papers referenced Internet data resources. Suggestions for improving the content of papers include better documentation of breeding steps, development of more accurate and predictive descriptors of adaptation, and increased reliance on genetic data over phenotypic descriptions. This work suggests that the new paper format used in JPR provides important advances in how descriptions are published. The findings also should stimulate research on better ways to describe new germplasm, ultimately leading to more efficient development and distribution of the materials and ultimately, improving the ability of crop improvement to meet the needs of producers and consumers.

Technical Abstract: Published descriptions of new germplasm, such as in the Journal of Plant Registrations (JPR) and, prior to mid-2007, in Crop Science, are important vehicles for allowing researchers and other interested parties to learn about such germplasm and the methods used to generate them. Launched in 2007, JPR introduced a new paper format intended to provide more useful and reliable information for readers. To test the impact of the new format, we assessed 172 papers from volumes 1 and 2 of JPR, which included the old and new formats, using criteria for descriptions of genealogies, breeding process, phenotypes, genotypes, seed distribution, and alternate information sources such as databases and the Internet. Information content increased with the new format for nine of 19 criteria for phenotypic data. The new format also provided more evidence based on statistical analyses. Improvements were less marked for other aspects of the descriptions. Between both formats, just one paper reported a coefficient of parentage, and only six papers characterized genetic distances based on molecular data. Only 54 papers presented genetic data and of these, 46 dealt with single traits. Sixteen papers referenced Internet resources. Alternatives for improved description of germplasm include improving documentation of breeding steps through links to information systems, developing more predictive, region-independent descriptors of adaptation, and increasing the use of genetic data.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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