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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The primary goal of the research is to provide safe long-term storage, and to ensure the maximum longevity possible, of stored plant and microbial genetic resources. Over the next five years the Plant Genetic Resources Preservation Program (PGRPP) at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP) will focus on the following four, largely non-hypothesis driven, objectives: 1. Long-term preservation of seed genetic resources collections. 2. Develop, adapt, modify and/or apply methods for secure long-term back-up preservation of selected vegetatively-propagated crops, especially Allium, Fragaria, Ipomoea, Humulus, Musa, Prunus, Pyrus, Rubus and Ribes. 3. Initiate comprehensive and strategic long-term secure back-up storage of priority microbial collections, commencing with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Culture Collection in Peoria, Illinois. 4. Conduct collaborations, consultations, coordination, scientific exchanges, targeted training, and technology transfer to promote and facilitate the adoption and application of long-term preservation strategies and technologies in domestic and international genebanks.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
As the guardians of the base collection for the NPGS, the PGRPP has the responsibility of ensuring that the methods employed for long-term preservation of the genetic resources are the best possible for maintaining a viable and healthy collection. The four objectives will accomplish this by: 1. Improving the quality control of the NPGS base collections by upgrading and operating an ongoing program to evaluate and enhance the secure long-term preservation, monitoring, and documentation of seed in the NPGS base collection. 2. Focusing research on the development, adaptation, and/or application of methods for the secure long-term preservation of selected germplasm collections of priority vegetatively-propagated crops. 3. Actively seeking to facilitate and coordinate the back-up of ARS microbial collections at NCGRP in cryogenic storage. 4. Aiding in the building the global infrastructure for genetic research preservation by participation at national and international levels to promote, facilitate and provide the underpinning for a global genetic resources preservation community.

3. Progress Report
This is the second report for the new 5-year project and all but two milestones were either met or substantially met. The two milestones not met dealt with the development of computer software to aid in the analysis of germination data and with only a 50% FTE for software development, upgrading existing programs took the majority of the computer programmer’s time. Although significant progress was made with these milestones, insufficient resources were the primary reason these milestones were not met. In contrast to 2008 where samples received for long-term storage were lower than average, the Center received a record number of samples for long-term storage in 2009 with 113,192 new samples received. The majority of the samples were back-up collections of CIMMYT wheat (76,756 samples) where they were held for the past several years pending completion of our new seed storage vault. Germination tests of seed samples were slightly up in 2009 with a total of 23,984 tests performed, 15,586 of these being germination tests to monitor the health of seeds in long-term storage. The long-term back-up of vegetatively-propagated crops via cryopreservation is making excellent progress and meeting all their goals. A part-time seed analyst has been hired to help our effort with Seeds of Success and native plants. The Plant Genetic Resources Program (PGRPP) continued to train visiting scientists, participated in international meetings, coordinated the NPGS participation in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, promoted best practices in genetic resources conservation and supported international efforts in conservation and regeneration of genetic resources. The 113,192 new samples received in 2009 included: • 15,005 samples were from ARS sites within the National Plant Germplasm System (128 clonal samples, 10,944 conventional samples, 1141 maize genetic stocks samples and 2,792 critical back-up (low seed number)samples; • 1014 samples from the Forest Service National Tree Seed Lab; • 485 Plant Variety Protection (PVP) samples; • 170 plant registration samples; • 77,339 samples for black-box storage for CIMMYT in Mexico (76,756 wheat samples + 583 maize samples; • 3,321 samples of various native plants (including 354 Fraxinus samples and 1163 samples for the Center of Plant Conservation); • 4,899 samples for repatriation to Mexico for their new national genebank; • 10,522 samples which were shipped for long-term safety back-up to the Svalbard Global Seed vault in Norway. Seed germination test were done on 23,984 accessions with 15,586 of these germination tests being monitor tests. 1,211 samples were distributed to 68 scientists in 5 countries and 116 quarantine maize samples shipped to St. Croix for regeneration. The PGRPP also released 214 expired PVP samples and 306 plant registration samples into the NPGS. In FY 09, the Vegetative Germplasm Preservation Group placed 185 accessions into cryopreservation. The focus on expanding the apple dormant bud cryopreservation protocol on other woody crops continued with work in almond, walnut (English and black) apricot, pear, currant, blue berry and sweet cherry.

4. Accomplishments
1. ARS scientists at Fort Collins, Colorado are securely safeguarding and curating the storage of over 830,000 different plant samples. Agricultural biodiversity is key to long-term food security and this collection ensures the safe storage and availability of this biodiversity. With over 1,200 genera and 7,000 species of plant material stored, National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation likely contains the largest collection of agricultural biodiversity in a single location in the world. This collection helps ensure that U.S. plant breeders have the biodiversity available to continue to provide productive and secure agricultural products.

2. ARS scientists at Fort Collins, Colorado facilitated the public release of over 500 lines of valuable plant material. The public access of unique plant varieties and germplasm is critical to maintaining food security and plant productivity. Plant breeders can maintain limited intellectual property rights over their materials through Plant Variety Protection and Crop Registration provided this material is put into the public domain within 20 years. The Plant Genetic Resources Preservation Program holds voucher specimens of this valuable germplasm and publically releases it upon expiration of protection.

3. ARS scientists in Fort Collins, in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico have found a second site of a putative wild diploid perennial teosinte (Zea diploperenis) in Mexico. Teosinte is the ancestor to maize and is generally cross fertile with maize allowing teosinte to be used as a ready source of genes for maize improvement. There is only one diploid perennial species previously known from a single site in Mexico. This find is extremely significant as it represents a potentially unique second population of this key evolutionary ancestor of maize.

4. ARS scientists in Fort Collins coordinated the shipping of over 10,000 accessions from the National Plant Germplasm System to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is an international effort to store all plant genetic resources collections of importance to food and agriculture in case of a catastrophe. This U.S. shipment contributed to pushing the number of accessions stored at the Seed Vault to over half a million accessions. The effort provides one more level of safety back-up of the National Plant Germplasm System collections and ensures the U.S. participation in global genetic resources efforts.

5. ARS scientists in Fort Collins provide secure back-up of many important plant genetic resources collections. Our efforts have resulted in 14 Material Transfer Agreements (MTAs) for safety back-up of collections and 10 Research Agreements which include safety back-up as a component of the Agreement. Secure duplicate storage locations for valuable genetic resources collections is critical to greatly reduce the risk of loss of the collections if something happens to the primary storage site. Through numerous Agreements, the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation facilitates this secure safety back-up so that this material continues to be available to breeders and researchers to ensure long-term food security.

5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
PGRPP staff participated in one workshop with native Indian tribes to help the tribes preserve their plant genetic resources with a focus on the collection and preservation of black ash seed (related Agreements # 5402-21000-006-2G, #5402-21000-007-08N). The PGRPP stores seed for four native Indian tribes – Mohawk St. Regis Tribe, NY; Leech Lake Band of Ojibwa, MN; Stockbridge Munsee Mohican Tribe, WI; and Bad River Chippewa Tribe, WI. A PGRPP scientist is collaborating with Dr. Nirmal Joshee and is an external committee member for a graduate student at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, GA. The scientist visited the University to transfer shoot tip isolation and cryopreservation technology and has aided in writing a successful grant application which will further the collaboration on Scutellaria, a native medicinal plant.

Review Publications
Ellis, D.D., Campbell, K., Grotenhuis, J.A., Jenderek, M.M., Pedersen, J.F. 2010. Crop Registration: The Pathway to Public Access of Plant Genetic Materials to Build Crops for the Future. Crop Science. 50:1151-1160.

Casler, M.D., Johnson, R.C., Barker, R.E., Jenderek, M.M., Papadopolous, Y.A., Cherney, J.H. 2010. Feasibility of Seed Production from Non-flowering Orchardgrass. Crop Science. 50:35-42.

Last Modified: 05/23/2017
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