Mr. Kevin Conrad

{Beltsville, MD}


Genetic Resources, Evaluation, and Information Management of Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm


The Woody Landscape Plant Germplasm Repository (WLPGR) of the U.S. National Arboretum (USNA) is an integral part of the National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) with a shared mission to “collect, document, preserve, evaluate, enhance and distribute plant genetic resources for the continued improvement in agriculture”. Woody landscape plant germplasm management is complex and requires a multi-disciplinary approach, specifically: 1) to conserve and secure a broad spectrum of woody landscape plants of diverse genetic resources of wild-origin for landscape use; 2) to establish a viable repository for the long term preservation of the targeted over 200 genera and over 5000 taxa in the form of seeds and clonal material; 3) to transfer technology and associated information for use in research and crop improvement; and 4) to establish, manage, and make available seeds and plant propogules along with their collections information by electronic links between US National Arboretum (USNA), National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) and the public sector.


In support of these efforts plant expeditions occur every year either targeting natural areas in the United States or other countries throughout the temperate world. Over the last several years one of our primary objectives was to target Fraxinus (ash) to support the efforts in the conservation of this genus in recognition of the potential loss of genetic diversity caused by the Emerald Ash Borer. Other priority genera include Acer, Buxus, Cornus, Magnolia, Quercus, Tsuga, and Viburnum with an effort to strategically acquire samples and associated information for these taxa via exploration, contract collecting, and exchange. We also have built and maintain a 60 acre facility in Beltsville, Maryland for the production, evaluation and long-term conservation of taxa that cannot be conserved through seed storage.

To succeed in these efforts, an active and fruitful collaboration exists with the American Public Gardens Association and its core program The North American Plant Collections Consortium (NAPCC) to coordinate a continent-wide effort among botanical gardens and arboreta for the conservation of plant germplasm, and to act as a mechanism for elevating standards of curatorial management of plant collections.


Continue to collect and conserve genetic resources and associated information for a broad spectrum of woody landscape plants and transfer technology in the form of genetic resources and associated information to researchers and breeders world wide.