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National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation to be Dedicated Today

By David Elstein
January 14, 2002

Storing seeds in liquid nitrogen may be the best way to preserve them, according to a 20- year study at the newly named National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) in Fort Collins, Colo. Researchers can detect deterioration of seeds stored in liquid nitrogen, even if the seeds were already old before they were put into the nitrogen, according to the study.

A dedication ceremony for renaming the center is scheduled for this afternoon on the Colorado State University campus. Among those scheduled to speak are Congressman Bob Schaffer; Joseph Jen, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Edward B. Knipling, Acting Administrator for the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s principal scientific research agency; and top university and city officials.

The NCGRP stores more than 450,000 separate samples of plants comprising more than 10,000 species and 1,500 genera that are important to agriculture and the environment. NCGRP is one of the largest gene banks in the world. Two years ago, the center began housing the National Animal Germplasm Program, which contains germplasm of beef and dairy cattle and sheep.

The Center, operated by ARS, originally opened in 1958 as the National Seed Storage Laboratory. The new name was approved in September 2001. The center’s mission is to preserve the base collection of the National Plant Germplasm System and to conduct research to develop new technologies for preservation of seed and other plant genetic resources. As a back-up repository, the center’s primary function is to store germplasm that is grown and distributed from other ARS genebanks that collectively compose the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System.

The germplasm is available for research purposes to scientists, breeders and others from around the world. Such purposes include using the plant germplasm to develop new varieties or to make sure plant and animal species do not die out.

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