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This Unit's mission is to expand the genetic diversity of priority plant genetic resource (PGR) collections, to improve associated information and information management tools that facilitate their conservation and utilization in research and crop improvement. The activities of the unit, together with research and development applications, support sustainable agricultural productivity, health and nutrition, and economic growth.
Activities which support the mission involve 1) acquisition: securing germplasm through exchange or exploration; 2) documentation: maintaining provenance, passport and other data on Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) and disseminating those data; 3) maintenance: propagation and storage of PGR under controlled conditions while preserving original genetic profiles; effectively monitoring viability and health of PGR during propagation and in storage; 4) distribution of PGR globally to researchers and educators; 5) characterization: assaying morphological and molecular traits for taxonomic, genetic and quality-assurance purposes; 6) evaluation: assaying performance attributes, adaptation, and resistance to abiotic/biotic stresses; 7) genetic enhancement: facilitating germplasm usage by a) adapting 'exotic' germplasm to local environmental conditions while retaining its essential genetic profile to make it more useful to stakeholders, and b) introgression of useful genes and traits from 'exotic' germplasm into adapted varieties. The Unit also coordinates aspects of regional and national germplasm management efforts, and pursues research and innovation that a) contributes to the mission of the National Plant Germplasm System and b) through technology transfer, contributes to world-wide agronomic, horticultural, industrial, medicinal, and nutritional germplasm use.