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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » National Germplasm Resources Laboratory » Research » Research Project #424577

Research Project: Develop, Deploy, and Operate GRIN-Global, the Information Management System for Plant Genetic Resources

Location: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory

2018 Annual Report

Objective 1: Develop and enhance GRIN-Global with improved features, functions, and linkages to meet customer/client needs for superior user interfaces and to provide the NPGS with expanded capacities to manage genomic, breeding and curatorial information. Objective 2: Deploy and operate GRIN-Global for the genebanks of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS).

The GRIN-Global software will be enhanced in collaboration with international partners using agreed upon software tools and principles. Short term emphasis will be on improving the features and functions of the Curator Tool that is used by genebank staff, the Administrator Tool that is used by system administrators, and the Public Website used by global researchers. This approach, combined with additional customizations to meet the needs of twenty genebanks in the U.S., will allow ARS to migrate the National Plant Germplasm System from GRIN to GRIN-Global within the first 1-2 years of this project. Efforts can then be expanded to include more long-term enhancements such as expanding the capabilities of the system to curate additional data sets and/or expand collaborations with online molecular and genomic data publishers. All released versions of the software will be made freely available to international partners with ARS providing technical assistance to the maximum extent possible. Training and documentation materials will be developed in a variety of formats to ensure effective transition to, or adoption of, GRIN-Global. The project will provide secure and reliable access to the system by both genebank staff and public users. All hardware and software components of the system will be operated in compliance with, and as approved by, the USDA Certification and Accreditation process for information management systems. The project will also provide a web portal front page to publish information about the USDA National Genetic Resources Programs (NGRP), including valuable animal, microbial, and invertebrate collections. The NGRP page will be displayed in compliance with USDA standards for public web pages. The NGRP page will also serve as a repository for information on the activities of the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council of USDA.

Progress Report
This is the final report for project 8042-21220-253-00D. Over the project’s five-year duration, the plant (U.S. National Plant Germplasm System, NPGS) components of the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) Global were completely redesigned for both public users and curatorial staff. The Oracle database was replaced with Microsoft SQL Server. The forms used by curatorial staff were replaced with client based custom-written software, which integrates with other Microsoft desktop productivity tools such as Excel spreadsheets. Wizards were created for recurring workflows to optimize data entry efficiency and reduce errors. The public website for stakeholders and customers to obtain information, search the collections, and request plant material was refreshed using more up-to-date development tools and to be more user-friendly. New features were also added to give requestors more ability to track past and pending orders. Online documentation/help guides were produced for GRIN-Global and training sessions were held for internal and external customers using both in-person and webinar formats. The system was adjudicated for compliance with USDA and federal information security standards, and operated continuously with relatively few unscheduled outages. A technical advisory committee comprised of NPGS genebank staff was formed and met bi-monthly to recommend fixes and enhancements needed for GRIN-Global. In the international arena, GRIN-Global was adopted by genebanks in other countries. As of June 2018, ten other national or international collections were using it, and numerous more were evaluating it and likely to adopt it in the future. The impact of this project has been a secure and reliable information management system for NPGS staff to manage a national scientific collection, and global scientists and producers to access it for research and plant breeding. A new project, 8042-21000-284-00D, has been created to continue this critically important work.

1. GRIN is available as global resource. The Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database was publicly available on a nearly 24/7 basis throughout fiscal year 2018. It provided valuable and comprehensive information on agricultural genetic resources, especially those of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). As of June 2018, more than 150,000 plant germplasm samples have been distributed from NPGS genebanks based on requests received through GRIN. This material is used by global scientists to improve agricultural production and sustainability.