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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

2021 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
A revised version of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System Germplasm Resources Information Network (NPGS GRIN)-Global Public Website (2.x) was released in August 2020. It included many user enhancements presented in a more intuitive interface, and developed using more updated and secure tools. The project page ( was regularly updated, and includes the release notes for all revisions to the public website and curator tool. Progress continues on a major revision to the GRIN Taxonomy public interface, and a search feature that provides literature citations for nodulation data on leguminous plants was added in April 2021. A new development project was initiated as part of a multi-site NIFA funded grant to develop online training and educational content in plant genetic resource (PGR) management/genebank operations. The role of project 284 is to develop and host a public-facing site for eBooks, videos, protocols, etc. as part of the GRIN suite of applications. The site, which is being named GRIN-U (short for GRIN-University or GRIN-You), will launch in summer 2021 and be used to support an online PGR course taught at Colorado State University in the fall of 2021. Development also continues a web-based tool for GRIN-Global support functions, including an editor for GRIN Taxonomy and a tool to filter likely non-research requests (NRR) to the NPGS. The NRR tool will ensure a consistent and more efficient system-wide response to illegitimate requests for plant material. An internal administration tool was developed to better curate Crop Germplasm Committee (CGC) content (reports, minutes, etc.) on the GRIN site. The entire GRIN suite of applications remains hosted in the Azure government cloud through an ARS contract vendor. Discussions are ongoing within USDA about centralizing cloud hosting operations at the departmental level and changes are possible in FY 22, although the commitment to hosting GRIN in the cloud will be retained.

1. GRIN is available continuously as a global resource.. The Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database was publicly available almost continually throughout the fiscal year 2021. During the COVID-19 pandemic, GRIN remained fully operational although shipments for NPGS germplasm were reduced. GRIN provided valuable and comprehensive information about agricultural genetic resources, especially those of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). As of May 2021, NPGS genebanks have distributed more than 100,000 plant germplasm samples based on requests received through GRIN. Globally, scientists use this material to improve agricultural production and sustainability.