VIEWS: 4 PAGES: 2 CATEGORY: Agriculture POSTED ON: 7/14/2010
Some collections house rare and historic specimens, such as the National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon, which includes a descendant of the oldest living pear tree in the United States, or the National Animal Germplasm Program, in Fort Collins, Colorado, which maintains blood and semen samples from rare sheep breeds popular in the colonial era. Collections like these play a vital role in national security, public health, environmental monitoring, and scientific discovery every day, everywhere.
FORUMm S y s t e & Collections a t i c s S y s t e m a t i c s &C o l l e c t i o n s Preserving Diversity, Trade, and Our Way of Life In a government facility not too far from you, there is a care- taste like spoiled fish. Similar reports followed from wheat fully preserved collection that contains thousands of items. producers around the United States, and other countries began Dead or alive, the items in this collection influence your life in to embargo U.S. wheat. But what looked like a disaster for the significant and surprising ways. multibillion-dollar U.S. wheat industry was forestalled when It may sound like the premise of a summer blockbuster, but ARS scientists proved that the Karnal bunt infestation was it is a real scenario that occurs in federal buildings throughout limited to a small area in Arizona. The other producers were the United States. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) observing a harmless look-alike fungus. The only way to dif- maintains hundreds of diverse collections of microbes and ferentiate between the two nearly identical fungi was to conduct viruses, invertebrates and cell cultures, seeds and trees, and DNA tests—developed with samples from USDA’s National everything in-between. And every collection has major benefits Fungus Collection in Beltsville, Maryland. for agricultural science. U.S. importers benefit from national collections as well. There Collections can be used to protect the genetic diversity of are many subspecies of fruit fly, some of which are more harmful important species, to support regulation and policy decisions, than others. Scientists have used the ARS fruit fly collection to and to preserve history. Some ARS collections include speci- develop a system for port inspectors to rapidly identify fruit flies mens for research, conservation, and food safety. Some preserve in produce shipments. This system came into play in December specimens to serve as standards or for reference purposes. 2001, when inspectors identified larvae from the destructive Others include materials gathered for documenting diversity Mediterranean fruit fly in shipments of clementine oranges in nature. from Spain. Thanks to the system, authorities were able to halt Some collections house rare and historic specimens, such as imports before U.S. consumers started packing pests into their the National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon, lunchboxes and holiday spreads along with this popular fruit. which includes a descendant of the oldest living pear tree in the Collections also play an integral role in protecting our na- United States, or the National Animal Germplasm Program, tion’s borders. Many of the travelers that cross U.S. borders are in Fort Collins, Colorado, which maintains blood and semen too small to see. Insects, fungi, and microorganisms can hitch samples from rare sheep breeds popular in the colonial era.
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