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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

2020 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 October 2019 through May 2020. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, most plant explorations approved for funding by the National Germplasm Resources Laboratory and planned for this fiscal year were postponed until 2021. Two plant explorations in the United States will take place in the summer of 2020. The accessions collected on these explorations will be new sources of genetic diversity that will be available from the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System to scientists worldwide for crop breeding and other research. Numerous adjustments were made to GRIN Taxonomy data, including the addition of more than 4,078 distribution, 2,691 literature, 256 common name, and 1,930 economic use records. More than 5,900 taxon records were verified. Modifications to more than 16,600 existing records have also been made. Several new tables for crop wild relatives and regulation data have been created and populated with approximately 19,900 new records. Substantial continued effort was devoted to identifying and proposing solutions to issues with the GRIN Taxonomy web interface, and a new Crop Wild Relative webpage has been programmed and will be available before the end of FY20. All other taxonomy webpages are currently being redesigned and reprogrammed in a different format. During the same period, the Plant Exchange Office assisted in the distribution of 28,186 accessions in 342 orders to researchers in 54 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. In collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service, the University of Arizona and Borderlands Restoration Network, a survey and germplasm collection of crop wild relatives was conducted in the Wild Chile Botanical Area of the Coronado National Forest, Arizona. Germplasm was deposited in the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System.


Review Publications
Khoury, C.K., Greene, S.L., Krishnan, S., Miller, A., Moreau, T., Williams, K.A., Rodriguez-Bonilla, L., Spurrier, C.S., Zalapa, J.E., Nabhan, G.P. 2020. Toward integrated conservation of North America’s crop wild relatives. Natural Areas Journal. 40(1):96-100.