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NGRL Welcomes New Botanist

Dr. Melanie Schori joined the USDA-ARS National Germplasm Resources Lab as a Botanist on January 9, 2017. She will assist in curating GRIN-Taxonomy for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Dr. Schori obtained a B.S. degree from Cornell University in Plant Science and a Ph.D. from Ohio University in Plant Biology. She is a member of the Botanical Society of America, the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, and the International Association of Plant Taxonomists. She has also had several editorial roles in various botanical journals. Dr. Schori can be reached at or 301-504-8895./ARSUserFiles/80420545/images/misc/dr_melanie_schori_cropped.jpg


GRIN-Global and Genesys Exhibit at GODAN Summit

GRIN-Global and our companion project Genesys ( had an exhibit at the 2016 Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit held in New York City September 15-16, 2016. About 800 attendees participated in plenary and breakout sessions on the importance of sharing data related to food production, nutrition, and waste minimization. The NGRL booth included the capability to demonstrate both GRIN-Global and Genesys in real-time, as well as attractive banners and printed resource materials. The booth was staffed by Dr. Gary Kinard (USDA), Juan Carlos Alarcón Maldonado (CIMMYT), and Martin Reisinger (USDA).

(Left to right: Dr. Gary Kinard, Juan Carlos Alarcón Maldonado, and Martin Reisinger)


/ARSUserFiles/80420545/images/misc/Godan 2016 Day 1 - Photo by, © 2016  Perry Bindelglass 422 sm.jpgMartin Reisinger and GODAN participants (Photo by Perry Bindelglass)


GRIN-Global Team Receives USDA Award

The GRIN-Global team received an Abraham Lincoln Honor Award (ALHA) from the USDA for its work to develop and implement the GRIN-Global genebank information management system. The ALHA was presented at ceremony at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC on September 13, 2016. The first photo below shows the GRIN-Global team minus Quinn Sinnott from Beltsville, MD and Josef Pohl from Ft. Collins, CO who were unable to attend. The second photo below shows Pete Cyr (middle left) from Ames and Gary Kinard (middle right), the Research Leader of NGRL, accepting the award on behalf of the team from Secretary Tom Vilsack (far left) and Deputy Secretary Gregory Parham (far right).





BARC Field Day Educates and Entertains Public

BARC held a Field Day for the general public on September 10, 2016. Thousands of attendees learned about the ARS research conducted at BARC with exhibits that were both fun and educational for the entire family. The NGRL booth showcased our work on the collection, conservation, and documentation of plant genetic resources, and on virus pathogens that cause economic problems when they “hitch a ride” on germplasm that is moving around the world. A highlight of the exhibit was a chance for attendees to become an honorary plant explorer by searching for bean germplasm among many other types of plants (top photo). Visitors to the booth included Daruisz Swietlik (bottom photo center), the Northeast Area Director for ARS, welcomed by Laura Gu (left) and Gary Kinard (right).

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Visiting Scientist from Nanchang University

Dr. Liping Wu is a Visiting Scientist in NGRL until July 2017. Dr. Wu is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Nanchang University in the Jiangxi Province of China. She obtained a PhD in Plant Pathology from Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University. Dr. Wu is working with Dr. Ruhui Li in NGRL on quarantine plant virology research.
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NGRL Welcomes 2016 Summer Interns

NGRL has been pleased to host two outstanding undergraduate interns during the summer of 2016. Amy Zhong, left, is a rising junior at Cornell University majoring in Information Science. Amy has worked with the GRIN-Global Development Team. Cesar Urrutia, right, is a rising junior at the University of California-Riverside majoring in Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology. Cesar has worked with the pathology team on plant virus research.
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NGRL Welcomes Two New Employees

Matt Eicholtz (left) and Eric Brewer (right) joined NGRL in March and April 2016, respectively, as temporary employees. Matt is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park. Eric obtained a B.S. degree from Cornell University and an M.S. from the University of Maryland-College Park.

Matt Eicholtz & Eric Brewer

NGRL Welcomes New Employee

Irazema Fuentes-Bueno joined NGRL as a new Biological Science Technician in February 2016. Irazema obtained a B.S. degree from the Instituto Tecnologico De Sonora in Mexico and an M.S. in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University. She joins NGRL after working for several years at the ARS Hard Winter Wheat Genetics Research Unit in Manhattan, KS.

Irazema Fuentes Bueno

2016 Student Employees in NGRL

Yvette Tamukong, left, is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park with B.S. degree in Environmental Science and Technology.

Margaret McLaughlin, right, is a current student at Towson University, majoring in Biology with a concentration in Cellular and Molecular Biology.

NGRL Scientist Participates in Documentary Film Screening

Gary Kinard, National Germplasm Resources Lab, delivered a seminar on plant genetic resource conservation at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science-Appalachian Lab (UMCES-AL) in Frostburg, MD on February 19, 2016. Then on February 20th, he joined UMCES-AL faculty for a free public screening and discussion of the documentary film ???Seeds of Time??? at the historic Palace Theater in Frostburg. The film highlights the global work of Dr. Carey Fowler to conserve crop germplasm. It includes segments filmed at the ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO and on a plant exploration in Arizona for crop wild relatives of potato with John Bamberg from the ARS potato genebank in Sturgeon Bay, WI. About 100 members of the Frostburg, MD community enjoyed the film and lively discussions.

Seeds of Time marquee

GRIN-Global Launched for the National Plant Germplasm System

On November 30, 2015, the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) began using GRIN-Global as its information management system. GRIN-Global is designed to provide the world???s crop genebanks with a powerful, flexible, easy-to-use global plant genetic resource information management system. It will constitute the keystone for an efficient and effective global network of genebanks to permanently safeguard plant genetic resources vital to global food security, and to encourage the use of these resources by researchers, breeders, and farmer-producers. Information Technology specialists in NGRL, along with ARS colleagues in Ames, IA and Ft. Collins, CO are the primary developers of GRIN-Global. For more information on the project, please see


NGRL Welcomes New Visiting Research Scholar

Dr. Nouman Tahir joined NGRL as a Visiting Research Scholar on December 1, 2014. Dr. Tahir recently completed his PhD from Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan. He will work with NGRL plant pathologists on quarantine pathology problems.

Nouman Tahir

NGRL Scientist Conducts Crop Wild Relative Workshop for Native American community in Michigan

Botanist Karen Williams, with the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, was the lead instructor at the Crop Wild Relatives Workshop, hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), at Baraga, MI on August 5 ??? 6, 2014. The workshop was sponsored by the Cedar Tree Institute, as a part of their 2014 Zaagkii Wings and Seeds Project, and was in partnership with the U. S. Forest Service (USFS) Eastern Region and the USDA/ARS.

Crop Wild Relative Workshop for Native American community in Michigan

The workshop introduced the tribal members to crop wild relatives, native plants that are closely related to food crops, with a major focus on the crop wild relatives that are native to the United States. Conservation and use of these plants is a critical element of future food security. Speakers from the Chicago Botanic Garden and Ferris State University also made presentations on seed collecting and documenting wild plant populations.

In addition to receiving classroom training, workshop participants went to a cranberry bog on KBIC tribal lands to practice the methodology used by ARS and USFS to document and study wild populations of the two native species of cranberry. Fruits of these species have been collected by Native American Communities in the Upper Midwest and other locations for generations These wild species may also contain traits valuable for cranberry crop improvement. The goal of these studies is to identify cranberry populations that may be suitable for designation as in situ reserves for the species.

NGRL Welcomes New Scientist

The National Germplasm Resources laboratory welcomed Dr. Dimitre Mollov to USDA-ARS as a new permanent scientist (Plant Pathologist) effective October 21, 2013. Dr. Mollov joins ARS from the University of Minnesota, where he obtained his PhD in Plant Pathology in 2012. He looks forward to working with collaborators and stakeholders on problems related to quarantine pathogens that infect plant germplasm. Dr. Mollov can be reached at or 301-504-8624.

Dr. Dimitre Mollovsm

World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference, Second Edition Published

John Wiersema

Dr. John Wiersema, a Botanist in the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, and collaborator Dr. Blanca Leon recently published the second edition of World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference. This 1,336 page reference book covers more than 12,000 economically important vascular plants that are used for a wide range of human activities. Such plants provide food and food additives, materials, fuels, medicines, forage, raw genetic material for plant breeding, or environmental and social effects. The coverage also includes poisonous plants and weeds.

The content of entries conforms to international standards and includes the accepted scientific name, synonyms, economic importance, common names in many languages, and geographic distribution of the species.

This new edition, published 14 years after the highly regarded first edition by Drs. Wiersema and Leon, includes twice the data of the previous version with almost 2,700 more plant entries and many more common names in script-based languages such as Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, and Chinese. As both collaboration among global plant science researchers and the international movement of plant material increases, this comprehensive reference will be indispensible for the proper and standardized identification and communication about economically important plants.

World Economic Plants: A Standard Reference, Second Edition was published by CRC Press on January 7, 2013 and can be ordered online at

The Svalbard Seed Vault

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

Popular press stories have described the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as the ???Doomsday Vault??? or the ???Noah???s Ark for Seeds???. Located on a Norwegian archipelago in the arctic permafrost, the vault provides long-term back-up storage of global collections of important food-crop seeds. The facility is managed as a collaboration between the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the Nordic Genetic Resource Center, and the Government of Norway. The agreement for countries that store seeds here is similar to that of a safety deposit box in a bank, where only the original depositor has access to the contents of their box.

The NGRL is helping the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System deposit back-up samples of many important seeds from its collections at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. As of the early 2013, the U.S. has deposited almost 70,000 accessions (distinct samples) of more than 1,600 taxa of seeds crops at the vault.

For more information on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, see

GRIN-Global Wins Technology Transfer Award

The GRIN-Global software won the 2012 "Excellence in Technology Transfer" award from the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer Midwest Region. On behalf of the GRIN-Global Team, Pete Cyr and Marty Reisinger accepted the award at the Awards Ceremony in Dayton, Ohio, on August 14, 2012.

Crop Wild Relatives of the US

NGRL scientists, especially GRIN Taxonomist Dr. John Wiersema, are collaborators in a project to develop a conservation strategy for crop wild relatives (CWR) occurring in the US, especially species that are potentially useful to US agriculture. Crop wild relatives have contributed valuable traits to crop breeding programs, especially for pest and disease resistance, and will likely be key resources utilized to meet the challenges of global food production in this century as agriculture adapts to challenges of resource limitations and climate change. The project builds upon an effort to compile a national inventory of the native and naturalized CWR in the US, spearheaded by Curator/Geneticist Dr. Stephanie Greene at the USDA/ARS genebank in Fort Collins, Colorado, and is part of PhD dissertation research for Colin Khoury, currently at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia. Learn more about the CWR of the US project, and provide valuable feedback, at

Preserving Genetic Variety of Valuable Specialty Crops

Protecting, preserving, providing material is the goal of the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory (NGRL) and the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). An article on Preserving Genetic Variety of Valuable Crops provides some explanation of parts of the NGRL and the NPGS.


ARS News Articles

New Reference Book Lists Uses and Origins of Important Plants
Mar 17, 2014
An Interactive Atlas to Preserve Agricultural Biodiversity
Mar 01, 2013

Last Modified: 05/25/2017
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