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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research » Research » Research Project #442377

Research Project: National Animal Germplasm Program

Location: Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research

Project Number: 3012-31000-007-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jun 14, 2022
End Date: Jun 13, 2027

Objective 1: Build, secure, manage, and facilitate the use of the animal genetic resource collection. Subobjective 1A. Operate species committees to advise NAGP on collection development and use. Subobjective 1B. Build, secure and manage genetic resource collections using quantitative and molecular analyses to further enhance the germplasm collection. Sub-objective 1C. Engagement and representation in the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources (ITWG-AnGR). Objective 2: Development, maintenance, and implementation of the publicly accessible Animal-GRIN database Version 2. Subobjective 2A. Redesign and/or necessary software upgrades to database and public webpages. Objective 3: Characterize genetic diversity to guide collection development and increase its utility. Subobjective 3A. Quantify genetic differences within and among breeds across different environmental zones. Subobjective 3B. Quantify genetic diversity of minor, rare, or heritage chicken breeds. Objective 4: Rejuvenate poultry research lines from cryopreserved semen using both surgical and non-surgical approaches. Objective 5: Develop and refine assisted reproductive technologies that enable the efficient and effective collection, evaluation, and utilization of germplasm. Subobjective 5A. Visualization of computer aided sperm analysis (CASA) results. Subobjective 5B: Develop improved preservation and utilization methodologies for sperm. Sub-objective 5C. Adapt and improve chicken primordial germ cell collection, preservation, utilization, and quality evaluation methods for use by gene banks and industry.

The United States is the epicenter of improved livestock genetics. American poultry breeding companies distribute genetic stocks to more than 110 countries, and the Holstein is the premier genetic package used globally for milk production and to a level that more dairy bull semen is exported than used domestically. The breeding complex, using genetic diversity of our breeds, fuels increased animal productivity and economic activity on a global scale and underpins the global food supply of animal protein. However, there has been a contraction of genetic variability and the number of farm enterprises engaged in livestock breeding. This draws into question the stability of the breeding complex and access to the full complement of genetic resources and thereby hindering the U.S. competitive position, and our ability to reintroduce lost genetic variability and address challenges such as climate change. Therefore, this project’s primary goal is to secure genetic resources and make the collected material and information accessible in national emergencies, for research purposes, or industry’s desire to utilize the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) collection for genetic improvement programs. Developing robust collections requires quantification of genetic variability, publicly accessible information, and cryopreservation of tissues used to reconstitute animals of interest. The project and its framework is established and operational. We will use this framework to acquire germplasm/tissue from targeted animals within a breed or commercial line, evaluate various attributes of genetic diversity, and document the collection in the Animal-Genetic Resources Information Network (Animal-GRIN) information system. As demonstrated, there have been short-term research activities (by the project or stakeholders accessing the collection) that transformed the livestock sector, and long-term the project can facilitate corrective mating or reintroduction of genetics absent from populations. The proposed project plan will provide tools to stakeholders and will continue developing the collection, thus providing the U.S. with greater security for its animal genetic resources.