Genebanking is the processes for preserving genetic resources of organisms. The OPGC uses genebanking to help preserve the genetic makeup of ornamental plants which assists plant researchers, the scientific community, plant breeders and consumers.

What Goes Into Genebanking
  • Collecting, documenting and conserving genetic variation present in ornamentals and their wild relatives
  • Exchanging germplasm domestically and internationally to broaden the genetic base of herbaceous ornamental crops
  • Identifying and evaluating useful genetic traits desired by the industry and consumers
  • Providing germplasm to researchers in industry, universities, botanical gardens, and other institutions for developing improved ornamentals
  • Identifying methods for successful long-term storage of ornamental germplasm
Why Genebanking Matters

Breeders improve crops through the genetic introduction of traits such as flower color or disease resistance. However, before genetic enhancement is possible, the genes must be identified and located in the pool of genetic resources or germplasm of the species.

Access to a diverse germplasm pool is crucial for the successful incorporation of novel traits in commercial ornamental crops. Until recently, most breeding programs have focused primarily on aesthetic qualities resulting in an inadvertent erosion and narrowing of genetic diversity of many economically important ornamental crops. This narrowed genetic base has increased the vulnerability of the crops to, for example, epidemic disease and has potentially limited our ability for further improvement of ornamental crops.

Click the USDA-ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) infographic below to learn more about plant genebanks: 

Infographic talking about plant Genebanks