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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research

Title: Public Germplasm Collections and Revolutions in Biotechnology

item Dugan, Frank
item Wiest, A
item Mccluskey, K

Submitted to: Journal of Biosciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/26/2011
Publication Date: 6/14/2011
Citation: Dugan, F.M., Wiest, A., Mccluskey, K. 2011. Public Germplasm Collections and Revolutions in Biotechnology. Online URL Journal of Biosciences. 36(2): 205-209.

Interpretive Summary: Collections of plant seeds and microorganisms, maintained or subsidized by public funds, provided the living material critical for the three biggest revolutions in modern biotechnology: antibiotics, Green Revolution crops, and molecular genetics. In each instance, scientists transformed unique biological material into products that utterly revolutionized modern life.

Technical Abstract: Public germplasm collections provided the biological material critical for launching the three most important revolutions in modern biotechnology: (i) An isolate of Penicillium chrysogenum, NRRL 1951, the basis for industrial production of penicillan, originated from the ARS Culture Collection in Peoria, Illinois. The growth of the modern pharmaceutical industry can be directly attributed to this seminal event. (ii) The Green Revolution was initiated with wheat cultivar Norin-10, which was crossed with winter wheat varieties at Washington State University and transferred to Norman Borlaug, who crossed these lines with germplasm from CIMMYT to produce the first Green Revolution short-statured wheat varieties. (iii) The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was made feasible by exploitation of thermostable taq polymerase, obtained from Thermus aquaticus ATCC 25104, an isolate from the American Type Culture Collection. PCR is the technology directly responsible for the revolution in modern molecular genetics.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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