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Research Project: National Animal Germplasm Program

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Title: Biobanking genetic resources: Challenges and implementation at the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program

Author
item Purdy, Phil
item Wilson, Carrie - Welsh
item Spiller, Scott
item Blackburn, Harvey

Submitted to: Reproduction, Fertility and Development
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/24/2015
Publication Date: 12/1/2015
Citation: Purdy, P.H., Wilson, C.S., Spiller, S.F., Blackburn, H.D. 2015. Biobanking genetic resources: Challenges and implementation at the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program. Reproduction, Fertility and Development. 28:1072-1078.

Interpretive Summary: Collecting germplasm (semen, eggs, embryos, DNA, tissue, organs, etc.) for repopulating or expanding a breed, or for genetic analyses is challenging for all agricultural species in the US but especially difficult for minor breeds because of low numbers of animals, a lack of breed associations, and minimal information that can be used for categorization of the animals. In addition, acquisition of germplasm can be difficult because often times the animals from minor breeds are not located near our facility which makes collection and preservation of the samples in a timely manner that much more complicated. This problem is compounded because not all preservation protocols are optimized for field collection conditions or for all types of germplasm. Since 1999 the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program has worked to overcome these obstacles and create a germplasm repository for all agricultural species in the US. This manuscript will describe these activities and illustrate them via a case study that describes how our efforts collecting Navajo-Churro sheep have created a secure backup of germplasm and how we specifically overcome these issues as they relate to rare and minor breeds of agricultural species.

Technical Abstract: There is adequate infrastructure in the US to identify and acquire germplasm from the major beef and dairy cattle and swine breeds. However, when we venture outside these species the same tasks become more difficult because of a lack of breed associations, databases that include genotypic and phenotypic data and low numbers of animals. Furthermore, acquisition of germplasm from non-cattle and swine species can be difficult because these animals are often not located near our facility which makes collection and preservation of the samples in a timely manner that much more complicated. This problem is compounded because not all preservation protocols are optimized for field collection conditions or for all types of germplasm. Since 1999 the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program has worked to overcome these obstacles and create a germplasm repository for all agricultural species in the US. This manuscript will describe these activities and illustrate them via a case study how our efforts collecting Navajo-Churro sheep have created a secure backup of germplasm and how we specifically overcome these issues as they relate to rare and minor breeds of agricultural species.