Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » National Germplasm Resources Laboratory » Research » Research Project #434391

Research Project: Plant Genetic Resource Acquisition, Conservation, International Exchange, and Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Support for the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System

Location: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory

2018 Annual Report

Objective 1: Support, plan, and/or conduct international and domestic plant explorations and exchanges to acquire plant genetic resources, especially of crop wild relatives and landraces, that fill key gaps in the coverage of the NPGS’s crop collections. [NP301, C2, PS2A] Objective 2: Maintain and augment GRIN-Taxonomy, the globally accepted plant nomenclatural, classificatory, and ecogeographical reference database. Expand especially its information coverage for crop wild relatives. [NP301, C2, PS2A] Sub-objective 2.A. Provide accurate scientific plant names in GRIN-Taxonomy, incorporating new data on classification, synonymy, geographical distributions, economic importance, and common names that reflect current literature. Sub-objective 2.B. Continue to promote global usage of GRIN-Global taxonomic data among genetic resource managers and other agricultural workers. Sub-objective 2.C. Expand GRIN-Global information coverage on wild relatives of crops (CWR). Objective 3: Expand collaborations among U.S. Federal, state, and private agencies to strengthen the national capacity for complementary conservation of priority crop wild relatives, both in protected reserves and in NPGS genebanks. [NP301, C2, PS2A] Objective 4: Manage and facilitate the international exchange (import and export) of NPGS plant genetic resources. [NP301, C2, PS2A] Objective 5: 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. [NP301, C2, PS2A]

Support a plant exploration and exchange program to acquire plant genetic resources for the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). Distribute proposal guidelines, provide guidance on exploration planning and execution, review proposals and arrange funding. Contact foreign governmental authorities to negotiate terms on access to genetic resources, including associated benefit sharing. Assist explorers in complying with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations for importing germplasm. Track completion of explorers’ responsibilities, including submission of reports and provision of germplasm. In cooperation with U.S. explorers, NPGS curators, and collaborating foreign scientists, identify non-monetary benefits for host countries, including projects or expenditures that increase the capacity of the country to conserve genetic resources, and provide assistance for executing the projects. Maintain and augment GRIN-Taxonomy for Plants. Monitor the latest taxonomic literature through routine searches to detect any changes to existing taxonomic classification or nomenclature for possible adoption. Document all data with references in GRIN-Global. Promote the use of GRIN-Taxonomy among genetic resources managers and customers by improving the web interface, encouraging user feedback, and maintaining the integrity of the scientific nomenclature. Develop crop wild relative classifications for crops 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. Focus on specialty temperate crops and major and minor subtropical crops that have not been treated. Strengthen the national capacity in the U.S. for complementary conservation of priority crop wild relatives, working directly with representatives of the federal and state land-managing agencies to develop formal non-funded, interagency agreements to establish in situ reserves for target populations of crop wild relatives on land protected by the agencies. Maintain permits issued by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for non-regulated nursery stock, small seed lots without a phytosanitary certificate, and herbarium specimens to facilitate importing germplasm for the NPGS. Update and make available instructional sheets on import/export and proper shipping procedures of NPGS germplasm. Maintain regular communications with Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection and APHIS. Support export of NPGS germplasm to researchers and educators worldwide by facilitating the agricultural inspections and issuance of phytosanitary certificates by APHIS, and shipping the germplasm to the final destination. Coordinate the activities of the Crop Germplasm Committees (CGC) by planning and participating in the annual meetings of the CGC Chairs, maintaining documentation of the activities of CGCs (minutes, membership rosters, crop vulnerability reports, etc.), and serving as a liaison between CGCs and ARS leadership to highlight issues and concerns related to plant genetic resources.

Progress Report
This report covers the period from March 2018, when the new project was initiated, through September 2018. Ten plant explorations were coordinated by the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. In cooperation with host country institutions, one exploration was conducted in Italy for forage grasses. Nine explorations also took place in the United States. Germplasm samples collected are genetic resources of tree and small fruits, guayule, maize, potato, quinoa, sunflower, herbaceous and woody ornamentals, and new crops. These accessions are new sources of genetic diversity that will soon be available from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) to scientists worldwide for crop breeding and research. Numerous adjustments were made to GRIN-Taxonomy data, including the addition of more than 1,700 distribution, 1,545 literature, 130 common name, and 1,000 economic use records. More than 600 new taxon records were added. Modifications to more than 88,300 existing records have also been made, many in preparation for restructuring the crop wild relative data to incorporate breeding trait data from the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Effort was devoted to identifying and proposing solutions to issues with the GRIN-Taxonomy web interface. During the reporting period, the Plant Exchange Office also assisted in distributing 38,894 accessions to researchers in 58 countries, and in importing shipments of germplasm from several foreign countries for U.S. researchers and the NPGS. The Plant Exchange Office and the U.S. Forest Service continued collaboration on a project to conserve cranberry crop wild relatives in national forests using a complementary approach linking both ex situ and in situ approaches. In national forests in Washington and Oregon, germplasm was collected for ex situ conservation and leaf tissue was sampled for genetic diversity analysis to identify unique populations of Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry) to be designated as in situ reserves.