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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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2012 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. 5. Devise new methods for high through-put phenotyping of root system architectural diversity in plant germplasm.

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. 5. Expanding information about our genetic resources by characterization of root system architecture in relation to canopy growth and defining genotypic and phenotypic variability between accessions.

3. Progress Report:
All but one milestone for FY12 has either been fully or substantially met. The one milestone not met dealt with the development of computer software to aid in the analysis of germination data and due to circumstances beyond our control, we were not able to hire a computer programmer to move this project forward. The Plant Genetic Resources Preservation Program (PGRPP) received 33,058 plant germplasm samples in 2011. An estimated 31% of the samples came from the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and an estimated 60% of samples were received for security back-up shipments. Overall, the number of germination tests done in 2011 were lower than in past years. This was due to a reduction in personnel, and an increased number of germination tests with native collections which are more time consuming than germination tests with crop plants. The back-up of vegetatively-propagated crops reached goals with 178 accessions placed in cryopreservation. The Plant Genetic Resources Program (PGRPP) trained six 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 conservation of genetic resources. The 35,058 new samples received in 2011 included: 5,203 samples from NPGS sites (36 clonal, 4222 conventional and 945 critical back-up samples); 437 Plant Variety Protection (PVP) samples; 199 plant registration samples; 12,171 samples for black-box storage (samples not for distribution) (i.e. from SeedSavers Exchange, African Rice Center, CIMMYT maize and maize NAM mapping populations); 1,327 samples of native plants (1112 Seeds of Success and 215 Center of Plant Conservation samples); and 12,801 samples sent to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault for long-term safety back-up. Germination tests were done on 14,970 accessions with 7,127 of the tests being monitor tests. 1,700 samples were distributed to 95 scientists in 5 countries. 243 expired PVP samples and 310 plant registration samples were also released into the NPGS. 178 vegetatively-propagated accessions were placed into long-term storage with liquid nitrogen in FY12. These included 1 garlic, 4 hazelnut, 5 Bermuda grass, 33 strawberry, 16 hop, 25 sweet potato, 2 banana, 4 mountain mint, 16 pear, 28 blackberry, 21 potato, 7 wild potato, 1 cacao and 15 blueberry accessions. Dormant bud cryopreservation procedures were improved for almond, apricot, blueberry, currant, hazelnut, peach, pear, pomegranate, sweet cherry and walnut (English and black). Currently, 11.9% of vegetatively-propagated genetic resources are backed-up in long-term storage. In FY12, the PGRPP provided safety back-up for an ARS microbial Collection of Tilletia, a shipment for back-up from the ARS ARSEF collection and the ARS NCAUR microbial, Listeria collection. In addition, the PGRPP received cultures for distribution from the International Seed Federation differential pathogen set, and participated on the steering committee for an NSF RCN proposal to initiate a U.S. National Culture Collection Network.

4. Accomplishments
1. Public release of added-value plant germplasm. Plant genetic resources collections contain the diversity critical for breeders and researchers to advance crop productivity and food security, this diversity is often not in the most usable form for these scientists. ARS scientists at Fort Collins, Colorado, facilitated the public release of 636 accessions of valuable varieties, advanced breeding materials, and other plant genetic resources. ARS safeguards voucher specimens of this material for up to 20 years to ensure it is available to plant breeders and the research community after expiration of protection. The public access of unique plant varieties and germplasm is critical to maintaining food security and plant productivity.

2. Global back-up of the U.S. National Collection. If genetic resources collections are lost, they are lost forever and the best way to avoid this is to back-up plant collections. ARS scientists in Fort Collins coordinated the U.S. participation in the international Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway by facilitating the deposit (for safely back-up) of 12,801 germplasm samples in February of 2012. This shipment included over 70 samples which were received by the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) prior to 1920. This effort contributes to the U.S. participation in global efforts to safely preserve plant genetic resources and this accomplishment is an important step in demonstrating U.S. participation. The plant germplasm contribution provides one more level of safety back-up of the NPGS collections.

3. Back-up of microbial collections. A government report on public microbe collections suggested that microbial collections be backed-up to protect the investment made in establishing and maintaining these collections, and to ensure their availability in the future. ARS scientists in Fort Collins are involved in the formation of a National Culture Collections Network by providing back-up storage facilities for key microbial collections and coordinating the distribution of International Seed Federation Differential Pathogen Sets. The duplication and archival of these collections is a major accomplishment that will provide the needed impetus for the backing-up of other important microbial collections.

4. International exchange of germplasm. The introduction of germplasm with novel traits from other countries is critical for food security and maintaining crop productivity. ARS scientists in Fort Collins facilitated the transfer and quarantine regeneration, where applicable, of soybean, pea, rice, cowpea, sorghum and maize germplasm from Brazil, Australia and China. Much of this germplasm is new to the National Plant Germplasm System, and in the case of sorghum, represents hard-to obtain wild relatives of domestic sorghum. Accessions that were cleared through quarantine and which were regenerated are now publically available to researchers through the National Plant Germplasm System.

5. Safeguarding clonally propagated plant genetic resources. Vegetatively-propagated crop-genetic resources are vulnerable to loss in the field and have special requirements compared to seed propagated crops. Scientists at NCGRP in Fort Collins CO backed-up 178 accessions into long term storage with liquid nitrogen in FY12. These included 1 garlic, 4 hazelnut, 5 Bermuda grass, 33 strawberry, 16 hop, 25 sweet potato, 2 banana, 4 mountain mint, 16 pear, 28 blackberry, 21 potato, 7 wild potato, 1 cacao and 15 blueberry accessions. Scientists also developed and improved dormant bud cryopreservation procedures for almond, apricot, blueberry, currant, hazelnut, peach, pear, pomegranate, sweet cherry and walnut (English and black). Currently, 11.9% of vegetatively-propagated genetic resources are backed up in long-term storage. The secure back-up of these clonal crops in liquid nitrogen storage is of economic and food security importance.

Review Publications
Cruz, V.V., Romano, G.B., Dierig, D.A. 2012. Effects of after-ripening and storage regimes on seed-germination behavior of seven species of Physaria. Industrial Crops and Products. 35:185-191.

Naranjo, S.E., Ellsworth, P.C., Dierig, D.A. 2011. Impact of Lygus spp. (Hemiptera: Miridae) on damage, yield and quality of lesquerella (Physaria fendleri), a potential new oil-seed crop. Journal of Economic Entomology. 104: 1575-1583.

Dierig, D.A., Crafts-Brandner, S.J. 2011. The Relationship of Temperature to Plant Morphology of Lesquerella. Crop Science. 51:2165-2173.

Jenderek, M.M., Postman, J.D., Stover, E.W., Ellis, D.D. 2012. Desiccation studies of dormant buds from selected woody horticultural plant species. Acta Horticulturae. 908:107-109.

Maurizio, L., Benelli, C., Previati, A., De Carlo, A., Ozudogru, E.A., Ellis, D.D. 2012. Cryopreservation of ancient apple cultivars of Veneto: A comparison between PVS2-vitrification and dormant bud techniques. Acta Horticulturae. 908:191-198.

Hay, F.R., De Guzman, F., Ellis, D.D., Makahiya, H., Borromeo, T., Hamilton, R. 2012. Viability of Oryza sativa L. seeds stored under genebank conditions for up to 30 years. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. DOI 10.1009/s10722-012-9833-7.

Cruz, V.V., Level, A.V., Dierig, D.A. 2012. Trends in literature on new oilseed crops and related species: Seeking evidence of increasing or waning interest. Industrial Crops and Products. 37:141-148.

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
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