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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research » Research » Research Project #443907

Research Project: Curation and Research to Safeguard and Expand Collections of Plant and Microbial Genetic Resources and Associated Descriptive Information

Location: Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research

Project Number: 3012-21000-017-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 20, 2023
End Date: Mar 19, 2028

Objective 1. Apply preservation technologies to back-up NPGS accessions in long-term storage, in alignment with the overall NPGS Plan. Sub-objective 1A: Preserve orthodox seeds Sub-objective 1B: Preserve intermediate seeds Sub-objective 1C: Preserve recalcitrant seeds Sub-objective 1D: Preserve dormant buds & shoot tips of clonal germplasm Sub-objective 1E: Preserve pollen Objective 2. Conduct research to develop and apply sampling procedures and ex situ genetic resource management practices based on information about the genetic resources’ diversity. Sub-objective 2A: Strategically acquire accessions and characterize variation within and among accessions through taxonomic, geo-spatial and phenotypic observations Sub-objective 2B: Characterize and access variation in heterogeneous accessions Sub-objective 2C: Adjust Genebanking Standards for seed accessions backed-up at NLGRP to account for new technologies and within-accession variation Objective 3. Expand and improve information systems to better document plant genetic resources and communicate genetic resource management activities. Sub-objective 3A: Maintain, expand, and improve data storage and access Sub-objective 3B: Expand and improve data processing Sub-objective 3C: Expand and improve customer outreach and experience

The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation (NLGRP) provides essential infrastructure for the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS). Unique in its mission, facilities, and staffing expertise, NLGRP houses the world’s largest collection of plant genetic resources (PGR), which are stored in freezer or cryogenic platforms. Germplasm (or propagules), such as seeds, shoot tips, dormant buds, and pollen, come from NPGS sites to back-up USDA’s PGR collections in a centralized genebank dedicated to keeping germplasm alive for decades, even centuries. NLGRP also provides back-up services for other institutions, who, like USDA, promise to make their PGR available for research. Genebanking, itself, can be viewed as a huge experiment in trying to make time stand still, not changing the viability or genetic identity of samples. This challenge is addressed by research on how to achieve and maintain survival in diverse germplasm that respond differently to preservation. Skilled staff conducts time-consuming work to identify, precisely dissect, cryopreserve, and recover tiny propagules, often without a priori knowledge of germination or growth requirements and often using in vitro techniques. New tools will be developed to find novel diversity and characterize diversity that may be susceptible to genetic erosion in genebanks. This will contribute to revised Best Practices that improve genebank performance. For NPGS’s massive collection, data management is a key feature to ensure information generated by NLGRP is available and linked to the physical sample and to evaluate potential changes to the samples due to preservation. As more genebanks are established globally, NLGRP supports the steady need for scientific support related to new approaches and technologies and provides training through on-site interactions and online materials.