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The National Germplasm Resources Lab facilitates the acquisition, exchange, and documentation of crop genetic resources important to world food security.
The National Germplasm Resources Lab coordinates plant explorations to collect germplasm for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System.
The National Germplasm Resources Lab supports the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. The locations of our genebanks are shown on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. (Click the map image to display the interactive site.)
NGRL conducts research on plant pathogens of quarantine significance and develops techniques to detect and eliminate them. This helps ensure safe global exchange and conservation of plants for food and agriculture.
NGRL develops and operates an information management system called GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) that documents USDA’s genetic resource collections. GRIN was developed beginning in the early 1980s and is an indispensable tool for curators, plant breeders, and scientists worldwide.
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, conserves, documents, evaluates, enhances, and distributes plant genetic resources used by U.S. and world agriculture. Three units and four projects in NGRL support the NPGS. The Database Management Unit (DBMU) develops and operates the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). This database maintains electronic information on more than 570,000 unique accessions at twenty NPGS locations. Genebank staff use GRIN to manage the collections. Detailed information about NPGS accessions is also displayed in a public website that includes the capability for scientists to request material. DBMU also provides similar, but less comprehensive, support for ARS insect, microbial and animal germplasm programs by hosting online access to their databases. 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 collections and support options for both ex situ and in situ conservation of crop plants and their progenitors. PEO is also responsible for GRIN-Taxonomy, widely regarded as the international standard for the nomenclature of agriculturally important plants. PEO arranges for required agricultural inspection of many NPGS distributions to foreign countries. The Plant Disease Research Unit (PDRU) conducts greenhouse and laboratory research on obligate parasite plant pathogens of quarantine significance. PDRU scientists 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 by facilitating the safe international movement of plant germplasm.