Arctic and Arid-Land Plants Have New Homes (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Fri Sep 10 00:02:38 EDT 1999

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 9 Sep 1999 11:38:39 -0400
From: ARS News Service <isnv at>
To: ARS News List <ars-news at>
Subject: Arctic and Arid-Land Plants Have New Homes

Arctic and Arid-Land Plants Have New Homes

ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Kathryn Barry Stelljes, (510) 559-6069, stelljes at
September 9, 1999

Two new sites for conserving and managing plants important to U.S.
agriculture are open in Palmer, Alaska, and Parlier, Calif. The new sites
join 26 others in the National Plant Germplasm System of the Agricultural
Research Service.

The National Arctic Germplasm Site will house native Arctic plants useful in
environmental restoration, some with potential medicinal value, and some
grains, legumes, and vegetables adapted to high latitudes. Examples are
northern-adapted grasses like tussock grass and northern berries like bear
berries and nagoon berries. Curator David Ianson will also conserve plants
with importance to native cultures such as Boreal yarrow, which Northern
Indians use for tea, poultices and sleep aids. The genebank is housed at the
State of Alaska Plant Materials Center in Palmer.

In Parlier, the Arid-Land Plant Germplasm Regeneration and Genetic Resource
Unit under curator Maria Jenderek has two roles in the NPGS. The site serves
as an alternate location for other genebanks to grow out crops that benefit
from a long frost-free season. Also, the Parlier site will house plants that
grow in dry regions. Among them are jojoba, used in shampoos; guayule, a
desert shrub being developed for its hypoallergenic latex; and lesquerella
and meadowfoam, potential new oil crops.

ARS' National Plant Germplasm System is a storehouse of more than 434,000
specimens of seeds and other genetic materials of crops and their wild
relatives. Researchers use these germplasm materials to identify useful
traits, like disease resistance, for breeding into commercial varieties.

For long-term germplasm storage, it's crucial to periodically grow the
plants to regenerate the seed or other reproductive tissue. Naturally, the
plants grow best and produce the most seed in their native areas. The Palmer
location offers a growing site for northern grasses and crops that grow in
high elevations or above 60 degrees north latitude. In Parlier, plants enjoy
hot, dry summers and about 14 inches of rain per year.

ARS is the lead scientific agency for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contacts: David M. Ianson, ARS National Arctic Germplasm Site,
Palmer, Alaska, phone (907) 745-4469; fax (907) 746-1568,
david_ianson at Maria M. Jenderek, ARS Arid-Land Plant
Germplasm Regeneration and Genetic Resource Unit, Parlier, Calif., phone
(559) 646-0307, fax (559) 646-0431, jenderekm at
This item is one of the news releases and story leads that ARS Information
distributes on weekdays to fax and e-mail subscribers. You can also get the
latest ARS news on the World Wide Web at
* Feedback and questions to ARS News Service via e-mail: isnv at
* ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2251, Beltsville MD
20705-5128, (301) 504- 1617, fax 504-1648.

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