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 National Plant Germplasm System

NPGS is a cooperative effort by public (State and Federal) and private organizations to preserve the genetic diversity of plants (view our Seeds for Our Future booklet).

The world's food supply is based on intensive agriculture, which relies on genetic uniformity. But this uniformity increases crop vulnerability to pests and stresses.


Rice plant

Concorde grape plant

Scientists must have access to genetic diversity to help bring forth new varieties that can resist pests, diseases, and environmental stresses. The NPGS aids the scientists and the need for genetic diversity by:

  • acquiring crop germplasm
  • preserving crop germplasm
  • evaluating crop germplasm
  • documenting crop germplasm
  • distributing crop germplasm
Since many important crop species originate outside the United States, the first steps toward diversity are acquisition and introduction. New germplasm (accessions) enter NPGS through collection, donation by foreign cooperators or international germplasm collections. An identifying number such as the Plant Introduction number (PI number) is assigned to each accession. The accession is then evaluated, maintained, and made available for distribution.
Blueberry flowers

Through these efforts, NPGS assists in improving the quality and productivity of crops. The GRIN database is managed by the Database Management Unit (DBMU), while the acquisition of plants is managed by the Plant Exchange Office (PEO).

Updated 25-Mar-2010
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