Submitted to: Plant Varieties and Seeds
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 2, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Curators of many plant germplasm collections world-wide face important challenges caused by backlogs of seed samples requiring regeneration. This paper reviews some tools that can be employed to set regeneration priorities and to better manage the overall regeneration process. It identifies the users of germplasm collections (such as plant breeders, pathologists, and natural product chemists) as excellent sources of technical expertise and advice about germplasm needs. Analysis of past germplasm demand and forecasts of future demand can be valuable guides to plan regeneration The quantity and viability of seed samples are also key criteria for decision making. Other factors that curators should weigh when planning regenerations include the overall genetic diversity within their collections, overlap with other collections, and the relative quality and completeness of existing information describing samples' histories and their useful traits. The USDA/ARS North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames, IA conducts applied research to develop effective seed regeneration techniques for cross-pollinated crops and their relatives. These techniques, such as using pollinating insects in field cages and high-density cultivation of plants in winter greenhouses, are reviewed for the benefit of curators managing crops with similar requirements. All the management tools described in this paper can best be used when institutions develop teams of curators who specialize in the management of particular crops. They can develop the expertise to anticipate users' needs and to understand patterns of genetic diversity and reproductive biology within their crops.
Technical Abstract: This report reviews some tools that curators of ex situ plant germplasm collections can employ to manage seed regeneration. It examines the various roles of germplasm users as sources of technical expertise and advice about germplasm needs. Analysis of past demand for germplasm and forecasts of future demands trends are valuable guides to plan regeneration. Seed quantity and viability are key planning criteria, but regeneration planning should also weigh such factors as overall genetic diversity within collections, institutional duplication, and the relative quality and completeness of passport and characterization data. The North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station conducts applied research to develop effective techniques for seed multiplication of cross-pollinated crops and their wild relatives. An overview of the Station's experiences with insect pollination in field cages, high-density pot culture, and mating scheme evaluation for maize is presented. Optimal use of all these management tools relies on the development of a corps of crop-specific curators, who can gain the expertise needed to anticipate users' needs and understand the intricate patterns of genetic diversity and reproductive biology within their respective crops.