USDA

Jeremy Frencha and Brittney Viers, Quail Forever/Southeastern Grasslands Initiative

The southeastern region of the U.S. was one of the most diverse grassland regions of North America, yet more than 99% has been lost due to such factors as conversion to row crop agriculture, forest succession, and wetland drainage. Reversing the decline in grassland biodiversity will require a regional effort with a multitude of partners. Our objective is to use NRCS-RCPP (Regional Conservation Partnership Program) funds to conduct a multifaceted conservation program that will complement existing efforts, especially near protected landscapes. This RCPP is led by the Central Hardwoods Joint Venture (CHJV) and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). Our RCPP includes efforts needed to recover populations of grassland bird species deemed in need of conservation attention by Partners in Flight, as well as the native biodiversity associated with the historic grassland landscapes of the Interior Low Plateaus ecoregion of Tennessee and Kentucky. Habitat improvements for the bird species of concern, which are more dependent on vegetation structure than on species composition, can be accomplished by opening up suppressed native grasslands with removal of woody cover and prescribed fire, reconversion of cropland or fescue pastures to native grasses, increasingforb-to-grass ratios, changing grazing intensities, and altering haying regimes. We are also focusing on imperiled grasslands simply in need of management practices to restore them back to their natural conditions. This strategy will be employed in cases where higher native plant diversity is important to maximize benefits to a wider variety of organisms. Three species of grassland-breeding birds were designated as priorities for the CHJV in the 2016 Landbird Conservation Plan: Northern Bobwhite, Henslow's Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark. The CHJV region supported an estimated 6.5 million-acres of native grasslands (prairies, savannas, barrens, glades) at the time of European settlement, but nearly all of it has been lost or degraded due to conversion to row-crop agriculture or non-native pasture grasses, succession to woodlands and forests, and urban development. As a result, it is critical that we work with NRCS and other partner agencies and organizations to implement farm bill programs that favor grassland restoration, either through biodiverse focused conservation practices or establishing native warm season grass pastures that mutually benefit livestock and native grassland species.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, March 5, 2020

Jose Faria, Lisa Hill, Christina Walters, Tree Seed Laboratory, Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, USDA-ARS, National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, United States

Quercus imbricaria is included in the red oak group (Lobatae) and is broadly distributed in the Midwestern US. The embryonic axes are about 1 mg dry mass and have 0.68 g H2O/g dw in the acorn. Their small size and considerable desiccation tolerance made them ideal to compare various approaches for cryopreservation. Drying over a stream of nitrogen gas for 120 min reduced axis water content to 0.15 g/g, with 55% survival following liquid nitrogen (LN) exposure. To test whether addition of cryoprotectants could improve survival, axes were bathed in Plant Vitrification Solution #2 (PVS2) for 5-60 min and tested for viability before and after LN exposure. Axes submitted to PVS2 treatments and exposed or not to LN attained survival of 100% (or close to) after two weeks of tissue culture. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) was used to infer water freezing and melting patterns. In axes dried without PVS2, water melted at about 178 J/g H2O and melting transitions were not observed in axes dried to less than 0.34 g/g when standard methods of 10oC/min scanning rates were used. Using similar DSC methods, the water melting signal was no longer apparent in axes soaked in PVS2 for 45 minutes. To evaluate water melting behavior during fast cooling and warming, axes were plunged into LN and scanned at 300oC/min, revealing broad endothermic events between -120 to -40oC in axes that received no cryoprotectant, which we interpreted as crystal growth during warming. The enthalpy for melting transitions was reduced to about 70 J/g H2O, but there was no effect on the water content at which the melting signal was not detected. From our collective results, we suggest that PVS2 alters the rate of lethal ice crystal formation during rapid cooling and warming allowing for greater survival of axes exposed to LN.

Date Recorded: 
Thursday, July 25, 2019

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.

Contributing Author(s): 
Date Recorded: 
Tuesday, July 23, 2019