Submitted to: Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2000
Publication Date: March 20, 2001
Citation: Greene, S.L. Improving the quality of germplasm data to enhance germplasm use and management. Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter. 2001. v. 125 p. 1-8. Interpretive Summary: Effective documentation is paramount for selecting accessions for using and managing ex situ germplasm collections. This paper outlines the status of passport documentation in the NPGS Medicago and Trifolium collections in 1995, and describes how a significant documentation upgrade was carried out. It then discusses how collection management and use has benefited from raising documentation standards. This paper provides empirical evidence on the lack of documentation and value of carrying out programs to enhance passport data. It provides curators and managers with an effective framework, including cost estimates for carrying out these types of projects.
Technical Abstract: Effective documentation is paramount for selecting accessions for use and guiding the management of ex situ germplasm collections. A recent Government Accounting Office survey suggested that the quantity and quality of information in the USDA National Plant Germplasm System's (NPGS), Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), is a limiting factor in using GRIN to it's fullest capacity. The lack of collection-specific empirical data on the extent of the documentation problem makes it difficult to understand the scope and complexity of the issues. The objectives of this study were to outline the status of passport documentation in the NPGS Medicago and Trifolium collections in 1995, describe how a significant documentation upgrade was carried out, and examine how collection management and use benefited from raising documentation standards. New data were added to GRIN mainly for accessions collected prior to 1979, and for accessions in the Trifolium collection, which historically had received less support. Important sources of historic information were the USDA Plant Inventories Volumes 1-186, and original documentation associated with the acquisition event. The implications of raising information standards are demonstrated with examples that illustrate how the project has increased our knowledge of the Medicago and Trifolium collections as a whole, as well as our knowledge of individual accessions in the collections.