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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Kinard, Gary
Research Leader
(301) 504-5951
Beltsville MD 20705

The mission of the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory is to support the USDA-ARS National Genetic Resources program. Emphasis is on the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) that collects, documents, conserves, evaluates, enhances, and distributes plant genetic resources used by US and world agriculture. There are three units in NGRL that support the NPGS. The Database Management Unit (DBMU) develops and operates the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). This database maintains electronic information on the germplasm collections at more than twenty NPGS genebanks throughout the US. Genebank staff use GRIN in the daily management of their collections, about which detailed information is displayed in a public website accessible worldwide through the internet. DBMU also provides similar, but less comprehensive, support for ARS insect, microbial, and animal germplasm programs by operating or hosting information management systems for these collections. The Plant Exchange Office (PEO) arranges domestic and foreign plant explorations and exchanges that increase the quantity and quality of NPGS holdings. They help identify gaps in the collections and study the natural history and in situ maintenance of crop plants and their progenitors. PEO is also responsible for GRIN-Taxonomy, which is regarded as the international standard for the nomenclature of agriculturally important plants. PEO arranges for the agricultural inspection of many NPGS distributions to foreign countries. The Plant Disease Research Unit (PDRU) conducts greenhouse and laboratory research on plant pathogens of quarantine significance. They study the biology of quarantine diseases and develop improved methods to detect and eliminate quarantine pathogens, primarily from clonally propagated plant germplasm. This directly benefits both the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the NPGS through research that supports the safe international movement of plant germplasm.

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