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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mayaguez, Puerto Rico » Tropical Crops and Germplasm Research » Research » Research Project #444028

Research Project: Conservation and Utilization of Tropical and Subtropical Fruit, Cacao, Coffee, and Bamboo Germplasm and Associated Descriptive Information

Location: Tropical Crops and Germplasm Research

Project Number: 6090-21000-061-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 14, 2023
End Date: Feb 13, 2028

Objective 1: Conduct research to develop genetic resource maintenance, evaluation, or characterization methods and, in alignment with the overall NPGS Plan, apply them to priority banana, cacao, bamboo, coffee, and tropical and subtropical fruit genetic resources to avoid backlogs in plant genetic resource and information management. Sub-objective 1.A: Evaluate germplasm for important agronomical/horticultural characteristics. Sub-objective 1.B: Back up germplasm collections and related information. Sub-objective 1.C: Maintain and disseminate associated information. Objective 2: Acquire, distribute, and maintain the safety, genetic integrity, health, and viability of priority banana, cacao, bamboo, coffee, and tropical and subtropical fruit genetic resources and associated descriptive information. Sub-objective 2.A: Effectively acquire and maintain genetic resources. Sub-Objective 2.B: Distribute pathogen-tested genetic resources. Sub-objective 2.C: Develop SNPs and assess genetic diversity for cacao and other minor crops within the collections.

Characterization, evaluation and identification of promising germplasm which may be of use to the tropical fruit industry or improvement programs. To ensure that no confusion occurs during conservation, regeneration, and distribution, each accession in all the collections is carefully labeled in the screenhouse prior to field planting, identified in field maps as well as labeled during the distribution process. The use of a bar coding system and thermal printers with waterproof and non-photosensitive labels is being implemented for labeling of all plant material and a detailed form with information and instructions for requestors is included with all distributions. Priority tropical genetic resources maintained by TARS consist of 184 of Musa spp., 284 accessions of cacao, 31 of mamey sapote, 23 of sapodilla, 30 of Spanish lime, 13 Annona species, 13 Garcinia species, and 28 genera/species of tropical bamboo. These accessions are clonally propagated and established in field collections. In addition to priority genera, a core backup mango collection consisting of 47 diverse genotypes (primary site is SHRS, Miami, FL) as well as a backup of 64 temperate bamboo accessions (primary site is PGRCU, Griffin, GA) are maintained. Furthermore, a backup core collection of coffee (primary site is PBARC, Hilo, HI will be established during this project life. To limit errors during conservation, regeneration, and distribution, each representative plant within accessions in all the collections, in laboratories, greenhouses, and in the field is carefully labeled. In the field, accessions are identified, with labels, stakes, maps (print and electronic) in databases. The use of a local database, QR code system and thermal printers with waterproof and sunlight resistant labels has been employed and a complete packing list and phytosanitary certificate (if required) is included with all distributions. Embedded information in QR labels contains GRIN database passport and characterization data. As introduction of disease and insect pests is a constant threat to local germplasm collections, standard operating procedures are implemented for visitors. Visitors are informed of the risks and the protocols to follow to avoid introductions, particularly when a visitor originates from a region where disease and insects are prevalent on crops curated at TARS. In addition, signs are clearly posted at both TARS’s research sites warning visitors to follow protocols of registering and being accompanied by TARS employees. Specific acquisition, maintenance and distribution practices for each crop are described below.