IFAS Internal Management Memoranda

IFAS; Policy for Germplasm Deposition

EFFECTIVE DATE: December 1, 1993


SUBJECT: IFAS; Policy for Germplasm Deposition

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) has the responsibility to evaluate, introduce, distribute and maintain plant germplasm. It is essential that the genetic purity of the IFAS introduced cultivars be maintained to permit their genetic raw material to be used by IFAS plant breeders for the development of superior new cultivars. The policy and procedures outlined in the attached document were developed by the IFAS Cultivar Release Committee and are intended to provide guidelines for plant germplasm deposition by IFAS plant breeders and units.


Modern agriculture depends on a coordinated system to evaluate, introduce, distribute and maintain germplasm, since plant germplasm is the base for a productive agriculture. It is essential that the genetic purity of introduced cultivars be maintained to continue producing desired benefits and permitting their genetic raw material to be used by breeders for the development of superior new cultivars. Much germplasm is being lost from the individual breeding programs in Florida. Germplasm lost when newly introduced cultivars are not maintained can never be replaced. In addition to this, native plant materials important to plant breeding programs are disappearing at an alarming rate from the world centers of plant origin.

Florida's climate, ranging from temperate to subtropical, permits the growth and commercial production of an extremely diverse number of plant species. For many temperate crops conservation by storage of cold dry seeds is satisfactory and the technology needed for this purpose is well established. For a few others the preservation of vegetative material is necessary and has been successfully demonstrated. However, the problem of maintaining and preserving the seeds and plant parts of most tropical and subtropical species and many temperate tree species is complicated by the inherent nature of those species. Special storage conditions are needed for the short- lived (recalcitrant) seeds and plant parts of subtropical species sensitive to cold and dehydration.

Recent advances have shown the potential application of tissue culture and in-vitro storage techniques in the genetic conservation of a wide range of plants. These procedures have particular importance for plants normally vegetatively propagated and those having recalcitrant seeds. A wide range of tissue culture storage systems are available in genetic conservation, all having a potential role to play and are worthy of consideration. However, for most plant species tissue culture and in-vitro techniques are still experimental requiring a substantial amount of research before the procedures can be used with confidence. IFAS researchers are encouraged to test and adopt these procedures for genetic conservation where possible.

The IFAS Policy for Germplasm Deposition recognizes that no single national or state germplasm repository exists for conserving Florida's plant releases. It is recommended that IFAS plant breeders and leaders in the release of new cultivars, germplasm or plant introductions submit new releases to the appropriate recognized national, regional and state laboratories, introduction states and botanic garden and arboreta repositories. Established germplasm repositories generally specialize in a limited number of plant species or families. The nation's repositories and their major collection shave been summarized in this report to assist IFAS plant breeders and leaders in introductions in selecting the appropriate locations. Ornamental plants and trees are generally excluded from the established national, regional and state germplasm repositories but can be submitted to botanic gardens and arboreta having "principal collections" of that species.

The IFAS Policy for Germplasm Deposition Committee recommends that IFAS establish Plantations for newly released subtropical zone fruit, vegetable and ornamentals at the Tropical REC and/or Ft. Lauderdale REC and Gainesville for temperate zone plant releases. All IFAS cultivar releases should be maintained at one of Florida's plantations.

The following guidelines are offered to implement the IFAS Policy for Germplasm Deposition:


Breeders have the responsibility to maintain the parentage lines used in developing IFAS bred introductions.

Florida Foundation Seed Producers, Inc.

The Florida Foundation Seed Producer's Inc. has the responsibility to maintain, in cooperation with the breeders, those cultivars being made available to the commercial producers.

National Fruit and Nut Germplasm Repositories

Where appropriate breeders releasing fruit and nut cultivars should submit the germplasm to a national repository. As now proposed, the repository locations and commodities for each are as follows:

State Agricultural Experiment Station locations
CARBONDALE, ILLINOIS black walnuts, chestnuts and hickories
DAVIS, CALIFORNIA stone fruits, grapes, walnuts, almonds and pistachio nuts
GENEVA, NEW YORK apples and grapes
POAMOHO and KONA, HAWAII macadamia nuts and tropical and subtropical fruits
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA citrus, figs and certain other subtropical fruits
Agricultural Research Service locations
BYRON, GEORGIA stone fruits and apples
CORVALLIS, OREGON strawberries, cane fruits and other small fruits; pears and filberts
GLENN DALE, MARYLAND pome and stone fruits and woody ornamentals
MAYAGUEZ, PUERTO RICO coffee, cocoa, bananas, pineapples, mangos and other subtropical and tropical fruits
MIAMI, FLORIDA avocado, mangos and other subtropical and tropical fruits
SAVANNAH, GEORGIA bamboo, chinese water chestnuts and miscellaneous ornamentals

National Seed Storage Laboratory

Breeders releasing seed propagated cultivars of agronomic and vegetable crops must submit a seed sample (10-20,000 seeds) to the National Seed Storage Laboratory. Where possible this should be followed with other crops. Seeds are kept as a base collection at the National Seed Storage Laboratory and inquiries should be made of the laboratory in advance for those cultivars having recalcitrant seeds. Present storage includes: amaranthus, cabbage and relatives, carrot, celery, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, muskmelon, okra, pepper, potato, radish, spinach, squash, tomato, watermelon, and agronomic seed crops and their wild relatives.

National Tree Seed Laboratory

The laboratory is the U.S. part of the 9 branch "International Tree Seed Bank." The NTSL is the national center for U.S. native tree seeds and woody shrubs. The laboratory provides native tree and woody shrub germplasm to plant scientists from foreign nations. It does not store germplasm for forest geneticists.

Regional Plant Introduction Stations

The Regional Plant Introduction Stations maintain active collections which includes multiplying and partial evaluation of cultivars.

North Central (Ames, Iowa) alfalfa, asparagus, beets, cabbage and relatives, carrot, corn, cucumber, radish, spinach, sweet clover and tomato
Northeast (Geneva, New York) asparagus, cabbage and relatives, carrot, celery, cucumber, lettuce, onion, pea, pepper, perennial clover, potato, spinach, timothy, tomato, and watermelon
Southern (Experiment, Georgia) bittermelon, cowpea, cucumber, millet, muskmelon, okra, peanut, pepper, potato, sorghum, tropical legumes and grasses, watermelon, and winter melon
Western (Pullman, Washington) bean, cabbage and relatives, fescue, grasses, lentils, lettuce, and safflower

Departments of Vegetable Crops:

University of California, Davis pepper and tomato
Cornell University, Geneva tomato

Germplasm Resources Laboratory:

Plant Genetics and Germplasm Institute, Beltsville, MD World collection of barley, oat, rice, rye, and wheat

Botanical Gardens and Arboreta

Botanical Gardens and arboreta are recognized repositories for plants and their local regionals or specialized plant taxa collections from other areas of the world. The rapid destruction rate of native plant habitats has given added importance to expanding germplasm collections. The American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, Inc. has recognized the urgency of establishing living- plant collections at certain botanical gardens and arboreta throughout the country. The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University has begun, in the spring of 1984, a national "Center for Plant Conservation". The Center includes a national network of arboreta and botanical gardens committed to the protection of endangered species and coordinates the identification, establishment of collections of living plants and their propagation and distribution. Information regarding native plant culture, past and present distribution in the wild, present and prospective economic value and availability of plants in collections will be dispensed. The Centers program includes the distribution of native species to recognized plant breeders and the acceptance of limited numbers of introduced cultivars into the botanical garden and arboreta collections.

The Center for Plant Conservation will coordinate, integrate and expand endangered plant programs now conducted independently by a number of institutions. IFAS plant breeders should recognize the expanded role of botanical gardens and arboreta as important sources for gaining germplasm for breeding programs and possible locations for maintaining cultivar introductions. A brief description of the major botanical gardens and arboreta and their principal collections and research programs are available in the Dean for Research Office.


IFAS plant breeders or leaders in the release of new cultivars, germplasm or plant introductions are required to submit the introduction to the appropriate Florida Germplasm Plantation.

Research on Storage

Programs are needed to encourage the development of new technology for the storage of difficult cultivars and germplasm.

  • Seed - storage methods for recalcitrant seeds of new introductions when National Seed Storage Laboratory can't provide adequate storage conditions.

  • In vitro - employing growth limitation methods (reducing the hormone level or ratio and concentration of carbohydrates and nitrogen components of the nutrient medium) to permit extended storage periods for meristems, embryos and tissue cultures of cultivars having recalcitrant seeds or requiring special asexual propagation requirements. Developing cryogenic techniques (cryopreservation) for plant cells and organs, thus allowing for long-term storage.