Is there a genebank for peaches in the U.S.? Where is it and what do they do there? Why is such a place necessary?

Answer: Yes!  The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) has a division called the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS).  The NPGS “is a cooperative effort by public (State and Federal) and private organizations to preserve the genetic diversity of plants”.  Within the NPGS there are several National Clonal Germplasm Repositories for economically important crops at various locations around the U.S.  As such, a germplasm repository “is a gene bank that preserves genetic resources by various means including seeds, pollen, cuttings, plants in greenhouses or in the ground, micropropagated plants (tissue culture) and in ultra low temperature freezers (cryopreservation)”.  The National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Fruit and Nut Crops at Davis, California houses the collection for Prunus species (peach, nectarine, plum, cherry, apricot and almond).  The mission of the Davis, CA research unit “is to collect, preserve, evaluate, and distribute the genetic resources of the crops assigned to them as part of the US National Genetic Resources Program. These resources are preserved to ensure that crop diversity in these species will be available for future generations and to support research efforts in variety development and other areas of plant research.”  In addition to this mission, the genetic resources serve as a “backup” source of plant material in case of environmental disaster (disease epidemic, etc.).  As part of the peach collection in Davis, CA, they currently have 386 peach accessions from a total of 29 countries around the world.

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