Minutes of the Maize Crop Germplasm Committee

- December 6, 2000 : Chicago, IL -

List of Attendees: William Tracy (Chair), R. Bernardo, Jim Bing, June Blaloch, Charles Block, Mark Bohning, Peter Bretting, Ed Coe, Jim Coors, Jeff Dahlberg, M. Eubanks, Candice Gardner, Randy Holley, Bruce Maunder, Mark Millard, Linda Pollak, Mary Polacco, R. Pratt, Marty Sachs, Wilfredo Salhuana, Henry Shands, Kay Simmons, Suketoshi Taba, David Wilmot, Neil Windstrom

Bill Tracy called the meeting to order at 1:00 pm and welcomed members and guests. The minutes were reviewed and approved unanimously.

St. Croix Quarantine Site

A discussion was held over the potential closure of the USDA quarantine site located at St. Croix, VI. The closure had been considered at one time but was never implemented due to the importance of that facility to the user community. Bruce Maunder and Jeff Dahlberg then presented a brief history of the program. The committee then recommended that annual reports on the activities at St. Croix should be distributed to Area Directors and other Administrators. It was also noted that germplasm is not a regional but a national issue.

Descriptors for Performance Traits

Ed Coe and Mary Polacco led a discussion on the need to link the GRIN database with MaizeDB specifically with respect to the descriptors for characterization.
At this time the MaizeDB does have links going to GRIN but it was noted that links going from GRIN to MaizeDB need to be reviewed. The descriptors between the two databases also need to be reviewed to make them more consistent. It was proposed that staff from MaizeDB, NC7 and GRIN work together to develop additional links between the two databases and to develop standardized descriptor lists.

NC7 Curatorial Report

Mark Millard distributed a report and discussed the current status of the U.S. maize collection maintained at the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NC7) in Ames, IA. The collection currently contains 16,970 accessions of which 63.0% are available for distribution and 71.4% are backed up at NSSL. Seed distributions greatly increased in FY2000 with 17,863 packets representing 10,977 distinct accessions being shipped to 190 cooperators. It was noted that the main reason for this increase was due to several oil and pathology evaluations. Emphasis continued on seed viability testing in 2000 with 1,441 tests being performed. There were 200 accessions regenerated in 2000 and seed quality was above average. One hundred thirty seven accessions were planted in the St. Croix quarantine nursery in fiscal 2000 and 256 were received for processing. Digital imaging of the collection continues to be a high priority.

Candice Gardner then reported that the GEM project will be integrated under the management of the Ames Plant Introduction Station. The NC7 project will undergo a program review in late 2001 or early 2002.

Charlie Block distributed a report and presented a discussion on the USDA Maize evaluation project. A three year project was started in 2000 to evaluate subsets of the collection for reaction to several foliar and ear mold pathogens. Pathologists at three public universities, four private companies and two USDA-ARS locations agreed to participate in the project. A total of 2,274 accessions were evaluated for one or more diseases. As data is processed it will be made publicly available on GRIN.

National Program Staff Report

Peter Bretting reported on national and international issues related to plant germplasm. He introduced Kay Simmons who is the new National Program Leader for Grain Crops. The total increase in funding for plant germplasm in FY01 was approximately 3 million dollars which was spread across 15 different NPGS sites. The increase was attributed to the ASTA initiative started in 1998. Eversol and Associates, Inc. was hired by ASTA and they are doing an excellent job educating Congress regarding the NPGS. Kay Simmons indicated that a new corn pathologist position will be created in Starkville, MS.

National Seed Storage Laboratory Report

Henry Shands distributed a report and discussed the activities of the National Seed Storage Laboratory (NSSL). NSSL is working with the active collection in Ames and CIMMYT to get lists of material maintained at each location. Another concern is maize germplasm maintained only at NSSL. This material needs to be reviewed to determine which accessions should be incorporated into the active collection. A discussion then ensued on the need to consider GMO issues and the possible contamination of the collections. The need to incorporate disclaimers into GRIN to address this issue was also discussed. The series of volumes of Races of Maize published by the National Academy of Sciences will be digitized and placed on the World Wide Web.

GEM Report

Linda Pollak distributed the 1999 Annual Report on GEM and highlighted the major accomplishments. The project partially supported a total of 12 public cooperator projects. Mack Shen continued as acting data manager and Penny Meyerholz continued as temporary Agricultural Research Technician. ARS held a review of GEM on May 20-22, 2000. The GEM Project Data Summary will be available on CD in February, 2001.

Maize Genetics Stock Center Report

Marty Sachs distributed a report and discussed the current status of the Maize Genetics Stock Center located in Urbana, IL. 1,623 seed samples were supplied in response to 241 requests. Of these, a total of 81 requests were received from 20 foreign countries. Approximately 6.2 acres of nursery were grown this past summer and good yields of excellent quality seed were obtained for most of the stocks. A winter nursery of 0.5 acres was grown at the Illinois Crop Improvement Association's facility in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico in 2000 and this project will be continued in 2001. An additional 9,419 stocks were generated by the NSF project "Maize Gene Discovery, Sequencing and Phenotypic Analysis". This project along with other projects recently funded by the NSF Plant Genome Project should greatly enhance the maize genetic stock collection.


Suketoshi Taba distributed a report and presented an update on the activities of CIMMYT. Approximately 84% of the CIMMYT material is backed up at NSSL. CIMMYT, Ames and NSSL need to review their inventory lists to ensure collections from other countries are backed up at one of these sites to prevent the loss of valuable germplasm. A discussion was held on the need to establish in situ collections to safeguard the genetic diversity of landraces in Mexica and Central America.

Entomology Report

Jim Bing distributed a report on the entomology situation in 2000. First and Second generation European Corn Borer numbers were very low but warm weather in May and June allowed for the completion of a successful third generation in most of the corn belt. Insecticide resistance in adult western corn rootworm remains a problem in the Platte River valley in Nebraska. Warm weather also favored larger than normal populations of flea beetles and corn earworms.

Disease Report

Moderate winter temperatures resulted in heavy over wintering of flea beetles raising concerns about Stewarts bacterial wilt. Systematic Stewarts wilt infection resulted in the development of the crown rot phase in some areas of IL, IN and OH. However, Stewarts leaf blight was only an issue in OH, MI and WI. Foliar disease was widespread throughout the central Corn Belt due to the above normal rainfall. Anthracnose stalk rot was also widespread throughout most of the Corn Belt at higher levels than in recent years. Diplodia ear rot was widespread in the central and southern Corn Belt with some fields having over 50% mummified ears. The high plains virus and corn lethal necrosis frequency remained the same as in previous years. No other viral diseases of corn were reported.

Committee Membership

Four members (Randy Holley, Jim Bing, Wilfredo Salhuana and Linda Pollak) were scheduled to rotate off the committee at the end of the 2000 meeting. Randy Holley, Wilfrdo Salhuana and Linda Pollak volunteered to remain on the committee for another term. Jim Bing indicated he would check with two other individuals and if they were not interested in joining the committee he would serve another term. Dave Smith asked to step down from the committee and will be replaced by Bill Dolezal. A discussion was held on the need to add a molecular geneticist to the committee.

There being no more business, the meeting adjourned at 5:00 pm.