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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » National Germplasm Resources Laboratory » Research » Research Project #424583

Research Project: Plant Genetic Resource Acquisition and Conservation Strategies, International Germplasm ... for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System

Location: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory

2017 Annual Report


1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Apply the expert knowledge of project staff, Crop Germplasm Committees (CGCs), National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) curators, scientific literature, and GIS and other analyses of national and international databases to identify and prioritize strategic gaps in NPGS crop collections, and facilitate the acquisition of the genetic resources needed to fill those gaps. 1a) Conduct systematic and ecogeographical analyses to identify key gaps in NPGS collections, prioritize acquisitions needed to fill those gaps, and identify opportunities for acquisition. 1b) Develop linkages between NPGS genebanks and federal and state landholding agencies to preserve in in situ reserves native taxa related to the crop species. 2) Maintain and augment GRIN-Taxonomy for Plants, an online database for validated, standard botanical and cultivated scientific plant names, taxonomic classifications, and associated data. Expand the nomenclatural, classificatory, and ecogeographical information available for crop wild relatives. 2a) Provide accurate scientific plant names in GRIN/GRIN-Global, incorporating new data on classification, synonymy, geographical distributions, economic impacts, and common names that reflect current literature. 2b) Promote global usage of GRIN taxonomic data among genetic resource managers and other agricultural workers. 2c) Expand GRIN taxonomic data on wild relatives of crops. 3) Foster plant genetic resource conservation and sustainable use by facilitating the international export of NPGS germplasm, and by establishing innovative international partnerships to enhance plant genetic resource conservation capacities. Establish and maintain partnerships in developing countries that provide access to their plant genetic resources, both ex situ and in situ, by NPGS-funded plant explorers. These partnerships are to enhance donor nations’ capacity to conserve, document, and use genetic resources. 3a) Establish and maintain partnerships in developing countries which provide access to their plant genetic resources, both ex situ and in situ, by NPGS-funded plant explorers. These partnerships are to enhance donor nations' capacity to conserve, document, and use genetic resources. 3b) In collaboration with the USDA-APHIS and DHS/Customers and Border Patrol/Airport Inspection Service, facilitate the import of plant genetic resources and accompanying documentation from donor countries, and the export of NPGS germplasm to other countries, as part of international plant exhanges. 4) Serve as coordinator and secretariat for the 42 Crop Germplasm Committees who collectively provide technical input for NPGS plant genetic resource management plans and priorities, and catalyze a greater awareness of current genetic resource management efforts for these crops.


1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Crops will be reviewed for germplasm gaps in the general order of economic value. On a crop-by-crop basis all taxa related to the crop under study and their relative importance as potential donors of genes for crop improvement will be identified. Gaps will then be identified and prioritized. This list will then be reviewed to determine if some or all of them can be acquired through exchange or if collection from in situ populations is needed. Once geographic areas are identified from which collections are needed, countries in which access to genetic resources is likely will be determined. The assessment will be sent to the NPGS crop curators and the appropriate CGCs for validation and modification. To maintain GRIN-Taxonomy for Plants the latest taxonomic literature will be monitored through routine searches to detect any changes to existing taxonomic classification or nomenclature for possible adoption in GRIN/GRIN-Global. All data will be documented by references cited in GRIN. Employing the definitions of genetic-relative classes, CWR classification will be developed for each crop based on thorough review of all pertinent taxonomic and phylogenetic literature, as well as similar review of the plant-genetic, plant-breeding, or other crop-science literature. Working directly with representatives of the federal and state land-managing agencies, this project will develop formal non-funded, interagency agreements to establish in situ reserves for target populations of crop wild relatives on land protected by the agencies. Non-monetary benefits will be negotiated and provided to countries that give prior informed consent for access to their plant genetic resources. The nature of such small-scale projects will be highly variable, but possibilities include funding of an evaluation and regeneration project in the host country for the collected germplasm, local or international training in genebank related activities, and the purchase of laboratory, field, or data processing equipment for the genebank or host institution. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued permits for non-regulated nursery stock, small seed lots without a phytosanitary certificate, and herbarium specimens will be maintained to facilitate the import of germplasm for the NPGS. Instruction sheets on Import/Export procedures and proper shipping of germplasm to the NPGS will also be regularly updated and made available to NPGS personnel. Regular communications with Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection and APHIS on importing plants will also be maintained. Export of NPGS germplasm to researchers and educators worldwide will be supported by facilitating the agriculture inspections and issuance of phytosanitary certificates by APHIS, and shipping the germplasm to the final destination. This project will also coordinate and participate in the annual meetings of the CGC Chairs, maintain documentation of the activities of CGCs (minutes, membership rosters, crop vulnerability reports, etc.), and serve as a liaison between CGCs and ARS leadership to highlight issues and concerns related to plant genetic resources.


3. Progress Report:
Ten plant explorations were coordinated in FY 17 by the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. In cooperation with host country institutions, three explorations took place in Austria, France, Georgia, and Romania. Seven explorations also took place in the United States. Germplasm samples collected are genetic resources of apple, bean, forage grasses, potato, small fruits, and herbaceous and woody ornamentals. These accessions are new sources of genetic diversity that will soon be available from the National Plant Germplasm to scientists worldwide for use in crop breeding and other research. Numerous adjustments were made to GRIN-Taxonomy data, including the addition of more than 6,000 distribution, 4,200 literature, 130 common name, and 320 economic use records. Modifications to more than 52,000 existing records have also been made, many to improve the reporting of these data on the GRIN-Global platform. The recently published 2016 family classification of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG IV) was adopted for all vascular plant families. Effort was devoted to identifying and proposing solutions to issues with the GRIN-Global taxonomy web interface. Several proposals to amend the 2012 International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi and plants, to be revised following the 2017 International Botanical Congress, have been prepared and published to solve problems in the nomenclature of economic plants. Over 190 major and minor crops in 99 genera now have a classification of their crop wild relatives compiled. Between October 1 2016 and July 3, 2017, the Plant Exchange Office assisted in the distribution of 47,028 plant accessions to researchers in 58 countries, and in the importation of shipments of germplasm from several foreign countries for U.S. researchers and the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Germplasm of over 50 Plant Introductions located at the former USDA Plant Introduction Garden (now under management of the U.S. Forest Service) in Chico, California, were collected and deposited with the appropriate National Plant Germplasm System repositories. These Plant Introductions, which were believed lost, included oriental persimmons, apples, and woody landscape plants collected over 100 years ago by USDA plant explorers. Plans are underway to rescue other Plant Introductions from the site. Additional historical Plant Introductions were identified at the High Plains Arboretum, a former USDA-ARS horticultural field station in Cheyenne, Wyoming and plans are being made for their rescue.


4. Accomplishments
1. Plant explorations were conducted to obtain documented genetic resources for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Ten plant explorations were coordinated in FY 17 by the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. In cooperation with host country institutions, three explorations took place in Austria, France, Georgia, and Romania. Seven explorations also took place in the United States. Germplasm samples collected are genetic resources of apple, bean, forage grasses, potato, small fruits, sunflower, and herbaceous and woody ornamentals. These accessions are new sources of genetic diversity that will soon be available from the National Plant Germplasm to scientists worldwide for use in crop breeding and other research.

2. GRIN-Taxonomy is an internationally recognized resource for plant taxonomy of agricultural plants. Over 1,600 taxon records were updated in GRIN-Taxonomy during FY 17. Some 800 of these were new additions to GRIN. Some of these included accommodating additional accessions from the Seeds of Success project of the Bureau of Land Management and the ARS Western Regional Plant Introduction Station. Correct classification and naming of germplasm accessions is critical for optimally curating and utilizing them. Many genebanks, research organizations, and individuals worldwide now routinely rely on the information in GRIN-Taxonomy, and records have been added to GRIN-Taxonomy during FY 17 to accommodate the needs of the National Agricultural Library and the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). Additionally, data on wild relatives for 204 major and minor crops have been compiled and can be made publicly available in GRIN-Taxonomy. These data identify and classify nearly 5,000 primary, secondary, tertiary, and graft-stock genetic relatives for these crops, and are searchable by various criteria.


Review Publications
Wiersema, J.H., Gandhi, K.N. 2016. (001–002) Proposals to amend Art. 32.2, 23.5, and 24.2 to clarify the treatment of transcribed Greek terminations of epithets. Taxon. 65:1195-1196.
Wiersema, J.H. 2016. (001) Proposal to provide a more direct definition of the term “gathering”. Taxon. 65:1186.
Wiersema, J.H., May, T.W., Turland, N.J. 2017. Report on corrections and future considerations for Appendices II–VIII of the International Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi, and Plants. Taxon. 66:772-775.
Turland, N.J., Wiersema, J.H. 2017. Synopsis of proposals on botanical nomenclature – Shenzhen 2017: A review of the proposals concerning the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants submitted to the XIX International Botanical Congress. Taxon. 66:217-274.
McNeill, J., Shaw, J.M., Wiersema, J.H. 2016. (000) Proposal to preclude homonymy of generic names with names of intergeneric graft-hybrids (chimaeras). Taxon. 65:1198-1199.
Yang, Y., Zhu, X., Wiersema, J.H. 2017. Nomenclature notes on Phoebe chekiangensis (Lauraceae). Taxon. 66:165-166.