Animal Gene Collections Support U.S. Research by ProQuest


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.

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									      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)

        he National Animal Germplasm         cattle and pigs by ARS researchers in Clay
        Program (NAGP) opened in             Center, Nebraska.
        Fort Collins, Colorado, in 2000,       In many cases, these collections have
        with genetic material from 40        helped U.S. animal producers save money,
        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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