Minutes of the Maize Crop Germplasm Committee
December 7, 2005
Hyatt Regency, Chicago IL


1.) Introductions

2.) Approval of 2004 Minutes

The meeting was called to order by Bill Tracy at 1:00 pm.  The minutes of the 2004 Maize CGC were unanimously approved.

3.)  National Plant Disease Recovery System

A discussion was held on the request from the Department of Homeland Security to develop a National Plant Disease Recovery System.  The current Maize CGC Report and Vulnerability Statement has recently been updated and could be used as a source of information.  A subcommittee of W. Dolezal, C. Block and D. White will review the section on plant diseases and identify any key pathogens that are missing.

4.) Zea Curatorial Activities

Mark Millard provided an annual report on the NCRPIS maize curatorial activities.  A CD of the “Races of Maize” was also distributed and he indicated it would also be placed in PDF format on the NCRPIS web site.  Staffing for the maize project changed significantly in 2005.  Two technicians resigned to pursue other interests and Mark Millard switched from an Iowa State curator position to a federal geneticist/curator position.  Both technician positions will hopefully be refilled in 2006.  An image software package has been developed to facilitate the loading of images.  Over 7,000 images on 3,556 accessions were obtained and loaded to GRIN.  There were 75 new accessions incorporated into the collection in 2005 including 34 expired PVP’s and 21 Crop Science Registrations.  There were 130 accessions regenerated in 2005.  This was a significant decrease from 2004 due to the loss of the two maize technicians just before planting season.  One accession of Z. nicaraguensis was attempted but failed to flower.  Cuttings were made in the spring and placed in water and were then transplanted to soil in the greenhouse where they did successfully flower.   The number of cooperators receiving seed and the total number of seed orders significantly increased in 2005.  The expired PVP lines continue to be a popular distribution.  Candy Gardner then presented an update on the NCRPIS activities, personnel, financial resources, facilities and future plans.  She also discussed plans for an NPGS wide Greenhouse initiative.

5.) GEM Report

Mike Blanco distributed a report and discussed the Gem project.  Twenty GEM lines developed from Raleigh, NC have been submitted for registration in Crop Science.  Samples of the 20 lines are publicly available from the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS).  Thirteen GEM lines from the Ames program are recommended for release to GEM Cooperators based on 2-year trial data, good yield/moisture ratio, or value-added traits.  The release of an anthracnose resistant germplasm is projected from Cornell University in 2006 and GEMS-0002 had excellent Fusarium ear rot ratings. 

6.)  Germplasm Utilization

Randy Holley distributed a proposal for a GEM Allelic Diversity Program and led a discussion on the utilization of maize germplasm.  The vast majority of the corn acreage
in the U.S. are planted with lines from Pioneer, Cyngenta and Monsanto but the genes from the germplasm collection and GEM are not getting to the farmers field.  The key is to find a way to get these alleles into private breeding programs and then to the field.  A discussion was then held on the proposal.

7.) Maize Genetic Stock Center Report

3,216 seed samples have been supplied in response to 290 requests, for 2005. A total of 96 requests were received from 28 foreign countries.  Approximately 10 acres of nursery were grown this summer at the Crop Sciences Research & Education Center located at the University of Illinois. They continue to work closely with the NSF Genome Maize Projects concentrating mainly on ear and tassel traits.  Thousands of  new stocks are being generated each year and space in the storage room is becoming an issue.  A new seed storage facility is presently being designed.  Our IT specialist, Jason Carter, has completed the second version of our curation tools, and we are currently using these tools to maintain data for our collection.  Jason recently resigned and a new person to replace him has been hired.

8.) National Program Staff Report

Peter Bretting distributed a report and discussed national and international issues regarding plant genetic resources.  Budget increases in the past several years have been very helpful but some NPGS sites still have limited funds.  The second cycle of National Program 301 has begun and the first customer stakeholders meeting was held in September.  There were 150 participants and now ARS scientists and the NPS will take the recommendations and begin writing the plan for the next 5 years.  The International Treaty came into force in 2004 but the standard MTA is not in place.  Negotiations on this are actively ongoing.  NPGS curators are seeing more and more MTA’s being attached to incoming germplasm and in some cases the wording may not be acceptable to the germplasm system.  A uniform method to handle these documents is currently being developed. 

9.) National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation (NCGRP)

Henry Shands presented a report on the activities of the NCGRP.  They are currently expanding the seed storage facilities to prepare for future holdings.  A new CSR category of “RESTRICTED” has been proposed where NCGRP will hold the material for 20 years.  There is some concern that some of the PVP’s expiring over the next five years
may contain GEO material.  A discussion was then held on this issue.

10.) Entomology and Disease Report

European corn borer infestations tended to increase in the northern and central regions with heavy infestations in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.  In the central Corn Belt, corn rootworm pressure continued to be moderately severe.  Transgenic sources of resistance to CRW feeding damage are becoming increasingly popular with growers.  These along with numerous chemical insecticides should provide growers with control solutions for many years.  The western bean cutworm continues to increase its significance and range as a corn pest.  It continues it’s advance from it’s home states of Colorado and western Nebraska and is beginning to expand eastward.  In general the disease situation was a normal year.  Aflatoxins were reported in Missouri and Illinois.

11.) CIMMYT Report

The maize collection totals 25,377 accessions.  This contains about 90% of the Latin American maize diversity plus samples of other continents and breeding programs.  The Guatemala teosintes are very valuable and seed will be sent to CIMMYT.  They are also very vulnerable and will be included in the Maize CGC vulnerability statement.  The germplasm regeneration project with the NCGRP is ongoing.

12.) Germplasm Survey

Bill Tracy led a discussion on a memo sent by Steve Smith concerning the need to develop a germplasm survey regarding U.S. on –farm corn diversity.  A survey like this has not been published since 1991.  In 1996 the ASTA attempted to pull a report together but not all the private companies provided input.  The CGC agreed that there was a great need for this type of information .  A motion by Jim Coors and seconded by Ed Coe indicating the need for a comprehensive survey of on-farm corn diversity passed unanimously.  A second issue of labeling varieties according to the Federal Seed Act was also discussed.  Individual comments should be sent to Steve Smith.

13.) MaizeGDB

Ed Coe distributed a report on MaizeGDB and updated the committee on its activities.  A new curation module is currently in beta-test mode and will soon move into production.  The software design follows essentially the same schema as in earlier MaizeDB, but now includes certain automation and quality control features.  Limited curation support continues to limit documentation of traits, literature links and similar features.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:00 pm.