The National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) opened in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2000, with genetic material from 40 chicken lines. [...] the collection has expanded to include dairy and beef cattle, swine, sheep, goats, bison, elk, and fish.
S y s t e m a t i c s & C o l l e c t i o n s Animal Gene Collections Support U.S. Research BUCK ALBERT-USGS (D1566-1) T Anim he National Animal Germplasm cattle and pigs by ARS researchers in Clay (NAGP Program (NAGP) opened in Center, Nebraska. Colo Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2000, In many cases, these collections have mat with genetic material from 40 helped U.S. animal producers save money, Si chicken lines. Since then, the but ARS animal collections aren’t simply collection has expanded to include dairy economical. They provide information and beef cattle, swine, sheep, goats, for researchers and breeding material for bi lk d fi h T d bison, elk, and fish. Today, NAGP houses animal producers, and they play an instru- more than 547,000 samples of genetic mental role in protecting and improving material, or germplasm, from more than agricultural livestock. 12,000 animals. This collection—like all Agricultural Research Service collections Jurassic Pork: Protecting and Grass carp or white amur, of animal germplasm—preserves the Promoting Rare Agricultural Breeds Ctenopharyngodon idella. genetic diversity of agriculturally Animal genetic material can’t raise the important animals. dead. But it can be used to revive animal Providing genetic material for genomic lines that have died out. Researchers at studies is one of the most important func- Purdue University arranged to save semen A few years later, Stewart and his tions these collections serve. NAGP, for from a unique line of pigs that had two colleagues decided to take the research in example, has distributed samples from mutations that negatively influenced meat a new direction. By that point, the original about 2,500 animals to ARS research- quality. Maintaining live pigs is expensive herd was long gone, but the scientists were ers and their university colleagues. ARS and time-consuming, so the population able to resurrect the line by inseminating scientists have used bull semen acquired was terminated when the studies involv- seven sows with the saved semen. All from NAGP to genotype prominent bulls ing the herd concluded. At the request of the sows became pregnant and bore that had sired dairy cattle. This informa- Purdue researcher Terry Stewart, NAGP litters, indicating that in some instances, tion, combined with milk-production data scientists gathered semen from three of the cryopreserving genetic material may be a gathered from those cows, has been used boars in the study and added the samples more efficient use of time and money than to improve dairy cattle breeding programs. to their extensive collection of animal maintaining a live herd. Similar work has been done with beef genetic materials. “This is the first time a line has been cryopreserved, discontinued, and re-estab- STEPHEN AUSMUS (K10187-9) lished using germplasm frozen and stored by NAGP,” says animal genetic
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