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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Identify key germplasm gaps in NPGS collections, prioritize the acquisition needs, identify opportunities for acquisition, and secure needed genetic resources through cross-institutional linkages, plant exchanges, explorations, and importation. Develop approaches to share benefits with host countries for providing NPGS access to needed germplasm. Expand, enhance, and maintain the online database (GRIN-Taxonomy)that provides access to, and promotes the proper and consistent use of validated, standard botanical and cultivated scientific plant names, taxonomic classifications, and associated data by genetic resource managers and researchers worldwide. Expand the nomenclatural, classificatory, and ecogeographical information available on GRIN for highly diverse specialty crop taxa.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
To identify NPGS germplasm gaps, we will assemble and analyze systematic and ecogeographic data on the taxa in the crop genepool, current ex situ holdings of germplasm of taxa in the crop genepool, reported problems in the crop that can be addressed by additional germplasm, reported needs of breeders or other researchers for new germplasm and in situ conservation status of taxa in the genepool genetic resources. Maintain all of the identified NPGS germplasm gaps in a searchable database. Prioritize the identified collection needs to acquire the more valuable and most threatened accessible genetic resources that are needed. Priority factors include: interest of the curator and CGC in acquiring new germplasm, potential of the target germplasm to solve the identified problem(s) in the crop, magnitude of the identified gaps in the NPGS, accessibility to germplasm in countries within the distribution of the taxa in the genepool, and the projected economic value of use of the targeted germplasm. Administer the Plant Exploration and Exchange Program to obtain the needed germplasm. Monitor the latest taxonomic literature, through routine literature searches to detect any changes to existing taxonomy and/or nomenclature for possible adoption in GRIN. Correct authorship and spelling or other details of publication of a name to ensure the accuracy of this information. Conform all nomenclature to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). Cite in GRIN the literature or other bases for taxonomic or nomenclatural decisions. New classifications based on molecular evidence, will be considered for GRIN taxonomy provided that they conform to acceptable nomenclature in ICBN. Synonyms accepted in recent literature will be added. Common names in French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese, will be added in conformity to GRIN standards and reflecting native scripts when possible. The sources for all common names, the negative economic effects of alternate host plants for plant diseases or pests, and of weeds and poisonous plants will be recorded on GRIN. Native distributions will be documented by country (or state for large countries) and these records linked to more detailed external web resources. Information on non-native distributions will also be provided, and for invasive or potentially invasive species distribution data will be evaluated in comparison to data from federal and state invasive species initiatives.

3. Progress Report
National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) germplasm needs for all major U.S. crops are being reviewed by compiling origin and improvement status data for the NPGS accessions of the crop and their related species. These are being compared with Germplasm Resources Information Network and geographical range records for these taxa. In FY11, twelve plant explorations were supported through this project. Explorations occurred in Albania (1), Canada (1), Georgia (1), and the United States (9). Germplasm collected on these explorations included beans, fruits, grasses, new crops, nuts, potatoes, ornamentals, and sunflower. These accessions are new sources of genetic diversity that have been added to the NPGS and will soon be available to plant breeders and other researchers worldwide. Benefit sharing with the host countries for foreign explorations included sharing germplasm, purchasing equipment, training scientists, and assisting with upgrading genebank facilities. The existing collaborative projects in Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Syria, Morocco and Kyrgyzstan were maintained and supported. A new agreement for benefit sharing was established with the Agricultural University in Albania. Support was maintained for germplasm collection and conservation activities of native U.S. Fraxinus species, which are severely threatened by the Emerald Ash Borer insect. About 4,500 taxon records were updated in GRIN Taxonomy during FY11. About 1,600 of these were new additions to GRIN, many in response to the approximately 80 requests received from National Plant Germplasm System staff during this period. These included accommodating newly acquired accessions from the Seeds of Success project of the Bureau of Land Management, the ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station, the Millennium Seed Bank, and the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. Adjustments to taxonomy data involving some 35,000 records, especially distribution and literature records, were accomplished to provide better documentation of GRIN Taxonomy data. Work toward the publication of a second edition of the reference 'World Economic Plants' continues. Software modifications to generate the manuscript from GRIN data are now completed, and reviews of portions of the data have been received from 70 taxonomic specialists. Additionally, over 4,000 common names in their original, non-Latin scripts have been accumulated for inclusion in this publication.

4. Accomplishments
1. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) needs for soybeans, lettuce, onions and garlic. The Plant Exploration Office compiled origin and improvement status data for the NPGS accessions of alfalfa and related taxa listed in the Germplasm Resources Information Network and compared them with the geographical range record for this crop group to identify the NPGS germplasm needs. These were also prioritized to support future collection and exchange activities based on procedures in the research plan. The information is important to assist curators and scientists in the U.S. to develop strategies to acquire inadequately conserved genetic resources of crop relatives for future breeding or utilization, and/or promote in situ conservation.

2. Identification of crop genetic relatives in GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network) Taxonomy. A project to determine the important genetic relatives of all major and minor crops important to U.S. agriculture and fully treat them in GRIN Taxonomy continued in FY 11. Work on 51 principal crops has now been completed. These treatments identify and classify over 1,500 primary, secondary, tertiary, and graft-stock genetic relatives for selected crops, and the resulting data can be searched through a web interface to retrieve the results. International collaborations have been developed to share these data with global partners working on crop wild relatives, and a project to document and conserve native U.S. wild crop relatives has also been initiated. The information assists curators and scientists in the U.S. by developing strategies to acquire inadequately conserved genetic resources of crop relatives, promoting in situ conservation, and facilitating germplasm enhancement.

3. Genetic resources distributed to scientists worldwide. PEO assisted in the distribution of 53,761 samples of NPGS accessions to researchers in 62 different countries throughout the world, and in the importation of 19 shipments of germplasm from 12 different foreign countries for U.S. researchers and the National Plant Germplasm System. Making germplasm readily available to scientist for use in production and basic research is the most important justification for crop conservation.

Last Modified: 06/26/2017
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