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Title: Emerging crops in the USDA arid lands germplasm collection

item HEINITZ, CLAIRE - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/11/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The USDA National Plant Germplasm System maintains collections of several emerging crops for arid lands at the National Arid Land Plant Genetic Resources Unit in Parlier, CA (NALPGRU). The guayule, jojoba, and prickly pear collections are most active in terms of current research and crop development. Guayule (Parthenium argentatum) is a shrub native to northern Mexico and produces natural rubber, resins and hypoallergenic latex. Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), also a desert shrub, produces seeds with a liquid wax useful for industrial and cosmetic applications. Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) is a multi-use crop that has traditionally been used as food and animal feed, but is now under development for biomass production. NALPGRU maintains these three collections with perennial field plantings and distributes both seed and vegetative propagules to researchers and breeders worldwide. The collections contain material from historic breeding programs, private collections and wild accessions from the U.S. and Mexico. Managing genetic resources for emerging crops presents unique challenges and opportunities – in many cases, the NPGS collections are the only publicly available source of plant material, and germplasm inventories must be carefully managed to accommodate periods of increased demand. Also, there is often limited knowledge of the best agronomic and seed production techniques. When managing emerging crops, germplasm curators have a unique role to play in working closely with breeders and researchers to develop useful descriptors, identifying agronomic challenges, and serving as a hub for collaborative research.