Cryopreserving Clonal Crops: Increasing Processing Efficiency in Genebanks

Gayle Volk, USDA ARS National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation, United States

The USDA-ARS National Plant Germplasm System has over 30,000 clonally maintained accessions within its field, screenhouse, greenhouse, and tissue culture collections. These fruit, nut, tuber, and bulb crop collections are usually not duplicated at secondary locations and are vulnerable to bioticabiotic, and climatic threats. Only about 15% of the clonally maintained accessions are currently secured in long-term storage at the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation (NLGRP) in Fort Collins, Colorado. The labor required to cryopreserve the clonal collections at NLGRP exceeds that which is available, even when reliable, robust cryopreservation methods are available. We have sought to prioritize collection materials for cryopreservation and to identify methods that improve the efficiency of the shoot-tip cryopreservation procedure. In particular, we have used field-, screenhouse-, and growth-chamber harvested plant tissue as source material for shoot tip cryopreservation, rather than relying on in vitro grown cultures. This strategy has been particularly effective for garlic, citrus, and grape cryopreservation efforts. In addition, incorporation of antioxidants and shoot tip micrografting methods have made cryopreservation protocols widely applicable to diverse genetic resources for each crop.