Acquire, preserve, and characterize a genetically diverse collection of microbial germplasm, and encourage the use of these genetic resources with the associated informational database to enhance agricultural and industrial productivity, to ensure the safety of the American food supply, and to facilitate biotechnological innovation. An integral part of this research is using the tools of molecular phylogenetics and population genetics to characterize the germplasm to provide for its identification, to elaborate the genetic basis of virulence for foodborne bacterial pathogens and the mycotoxin potential of food storage and plant pathogenic molds and to detect biotechnologically important microorganisms.
Acquire, and maintain microbial germplasm relevant to the research programs of ARS and its cooperators, and distribute this germplasm in support of ARS and related research and biotechnology programs and, as requested by contributors, accession new strains that are deposited in conjunction with worldwide patent applications and distribute these strains as mandated under international treaties. Characterize the phylogenetic diversity of actinobacteria, bacteria, ascomycetous yeasts, and mold genera within the ARS Culture Collection by sequencing one or more diagnostic genes and develop tools for rapid strain identification and prediction of agriculturally and biotechnologically significant properties. Use multi-locus DNA sequence databases previously compiled at NCAUR and elsewhere to develop multiplex PCR tests for the characterization of geographic, host, and temporal variation in Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) pathogens and their mycotoxin diversity. Using the vast amount of genome, nucleotide, and protein sequence data stored in public databases such as GenBank, novel analytical methods will be developed to detect cryptic patterns of natural selection in the genomes of animal and plant pathogens and pests by studying both closely and distantly related bacterial species in order to make comparisons across varying degrees of evolutionary relatedness. Comparisons of very anciently diverged taxa (e. g., eukaryotes versus bacteria) will also be made.