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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » National Germplasm Resources Laboratory » Research » Research Project #434403

Research Project: Develop, Enhance, and Operate GRIN-Global and Other Genetic Resource Information Systems to Support the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System and Other USDA-ARS Genetic Resource Collections

Location: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory

2019 Annual Report

Objective 1: Operate GRIN-Global and other USDA-ARS genetic resource information management systems to safeguard and deliver invaluable passport and descriptive data, and comply with information management system directives from USDA-ARS, USDA, and the U.S. Federal government as a whole. Sub-objective 1.A: Administer and maintain GRIN/GRIN-Global hardware and software systems to ensure uninterrupted operations, in compliance with policies and procedures to protect information integrity and security. Sub-objective 1.B: Document GRIN-Global with guides and manuals, and train NPGS users to facilitate acceptance and efficient usage of the system. Sub-objective 1.C: Deliver information about other agricultural genetic resources collections and related programs through GRIN web pages. Objective 2: Continue to expand the capacity and capabilities of the GRIN-Global plant genetic resource information management system to meet the needs of crop curators and genetic resource users, and to ensure smooth integration of its data with information from other sources, such as model organism databases. Sub-objective 2.A: Enhance GRIN-Global by optimizing database, middle tier, and presentation tier features and functions. Sub-objective 2.B: Expand the capability of GRIN-Global to exchange data with other accession-based information management systems.

The GRIN-Global software will be enhanced by the Development Team using agreed upon tools, principles, and practices. The features and functions will be improved for the Curator Tool used by National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) genebank staff, the Administrator Tool used by system administrators, the Middle Tier that enforces the business rules, and the Public Website used by global researchers and germplasm requestors. New software releases will be scheduled at regular intervals. All released versions of the software will be deposited into the GRIN-Global international code repository and made freely available to collaborators. The project will provide as much technical assistance to international partners as is feasible, and will participate in global genebank community discussion, planning and implementation events. Documentation, training, and help materials will be developed using a variety of formats to ensure maximal and efficient utilization of the system by NPGS genebanks. NPGS genebank staff will be provided ongoing opportunities to receive training on using GRIN-Global. The project will provide secure and reliable access to the information management system for internal and external users. All hardware and software components will be operated in compliance with USDA and ARS cybersecurity policies and procedures. The project will also operate the GRIN pages that document the USDA National Genetic Resources Program. These include providing public access to informational pages or searchable databases for animal, insect, microbial, and plant collections. GRIN will also serve as the public repository of information about the activities of the National Genetic Resources Advisory Council of USDA.

Progress Report
Efforts are ongoing to upgrade the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN-Global) public website and other server components using more secure and up-to-date development tools. We anticipate its release in August 2019. In the interim, several new versions of the existing public website have been released to fix problems and enhance features. We are also revising the non-NPGS pages of GRIN (animal, plant, microbial) to create a more harmonized appearance. A new data management/developer IT Specialist was hired in April 2019 and this will increase the pace of progress at least for a few months, as a long-term IT Specialist plans to retire in fall 2019. Discussions are nearing completion with agency and departmental representatives about the approach for GRIN to comply with the mandated USDA Data Center Optimization Initiative. We anticipate that GRIN will migrate to the Microsoft Azure cloud in late summer 2019 as part of a contract to move several other ARS applications to cloud hosting. This will allow GRIN to close its server room and provide a better environment to ensure uninterrupted, redundant, and secure access to GRIN.

1. GRIN is available continuously as a global resource. The Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database was publicly available almost continually throughout fiscal year 2019. During the USDA lapse in funding furlough in December 2018-January 2019, GRIN remained online and accessible. However, it was not updated during this time, nor were requests for germplasm accepted because none of the USDA genebanks were operational. GRIN provided valuable and comprehensive information about agricultural genetic resources, especially those of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). As of May 2019, NPGS genebanks have distributed more than 150,000 plant germplasm samples based on requests received through GRIN. This material is used by global scientists to improve agricultural production and sustainability.