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Research Project: Genetic Enhancement of the U.S. Maize Genepool with Unadapted Maize Germplasm

Location: Plant Introduction Research

Title: Sustaining the future of plant breeding: The critical role of the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System

Author
item BYRNE, PATRICK - Colorad0 State University
item Volk, Gayle
item Gardner, Candice
item GORE, MICHAEL - Cornell University - New York
item Simon, Philipp
item SMITH, STEPHEN - Retired Non ARS Employee

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/21/2017
Publication Date: 1/12/2018
Citation: Byrne, P.F., Volk, G.M., Gardner, C.A., Gore, M.A., Simon, P.W., Smith, S. 2018. Sustaining the future of plant breeding: The critical role of the USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System. Crop Science. 58(2):451-468. https://doi.org/10.2135/cropsci2017.05.0303.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2135/cropsci2017.05.0303

Interpretive Summary: Plant breeders require genetic diversity in their breeding programs to develop cultivars that are productive, nutritious, tolerant of biotic and abiotic stresses, and make efficient use of water and fertilizer. The USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) is a major source for global plant genetic resources (PGR), with accessions representing improved varieties, breeding lines, landraces, and crop wild relatives (CWR), coupled with passport and trait evaluation data. The goal of this article is to facilitate use of PGR in plant breeding programs. Our specific objectives are to (1) summarize the structure and operation of the NPGS and its consultative and support committees; (2) review current use of the system by plant breeders; (3) describe constraints to improving the utility of PGR; and (4) discuss ways in which the NPGS might evolve to better meet the challenges facing agriculture and society in coming decades. The NPGS will enhance its relevance to plant breeding provided there is (1) ongoing attention to filling the gaps in NPGS collections, especially for CWR; (2) a major increase in efforts to phenotype and genotype accessions using standardized methods; (3) enhanced information content of the Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN-Global) System and improved interoperability with other databases; (4) increased attention to pre-breeding activities; (5) improved training opportunities in practices for incorporating PGR in breeding programs; and (6) expanded outreach efforts to strengthen public support for the NPGS. We believe these steps will be implemented most effectively through coordinated efforts among USDA-ARS, universities, the private sector, and international partners.

Technical Abstract: Plant breeders require genetic diversity in their breeding programs to develop cultivars that are productive, nutritious, tolerant of biotic and abiotic stresses, and make efficient use of water and fertilizer. The USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) is a major source for global plant genetic resources (PGR), with accessions representing improved varieties, breeding lines, landraces, and crop wild relatives (CWR), coupled with passport and trait evaluation data. The goal of this article is to facilitate use of PGR in plant breeding programs. Our specific objectives are to (1) summarize the structure and operation of the NPGS and its consultative and support committees; (2) review current use of the system by plant breeders; (3) describe constraints to improving the utility of PGR; and (4) discuss ways in which the NPGS might evolve to better meet the challenges facing agriculture and society in coming decades. The NPGS will enhance its relevance to plant breeding provided there is (1) ongoing attention to filling the gaps in NPGS collections, especially for CWR; (2) a major increase in efforts to phenotype and genotype accessions using standardized methods; (3) enhanced information content of the Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN-Global) System and improved interoperability with other databases; (4) increased attention to pre-breeding activities; (5) improved training opportunities in practices for incorporating PGR in breeding programs; and (6) expanded outreach efforts to strengthen public support for the NPGS. We believe these steps will be implemented most effectively through coordinated efforts among USDA-ARS, universities, the private sector, and international partners.