An award is made to the University of Massachusetts Amherst to improve a large Plant Cell Culture Library (PCCL) that was recently donated to the university from industry, and make it available to the research community. The PCCL includes over 2200 unique plant species, the largest and most diverse collection of plant cell cultures in the world (representing approximately 69% of plant orders) and is the only such collection in the western hemisphere. The PCCL is a unique and valuable source of novel natural products and the genetic information required for their biosynthesis. Significantly, the availability of the PCCL to the academic research community and to industry has the potential for broad societal impact through the discovery and development of new compounds with applications in ecological sustainability (green chemistry, renewable resources), agriculture (prevention of crop loss with novel anti-microbial or anti-fungal agents, nutritional enhancement of food and feed crops) and human health and wellness. Additionally, the PCCL provides a valuable resource for undergraduate education and outreach as a source of material with which to engage students in the vast genetic and biochemical diversity of plants.
Specifically, this project will streamline cell culture maintenance protocols and optimize procedures for rapid culture scale-up and dissemination to the research community. The PCCL database will be modernized, a web interface for the research community deployed, and a sustainable model for maintaining and distributing PCCL materials will be developed. The approach will improve the development of cold storage conditions that will reduce the labor and cost of maintaining the living cultures by slowing growth to increase the time between transfers. Cryopreservation methods will be tested to optimize the transfer of as many living cultures as possible to a cryopreserved state. Cryopreserved materials will be duplicated to be deposited in the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, a USDA facility in Fort Collins. Culture media will be evaluated to reduce the amount of media required for culture maintenance. Finally, an updated PCCL taxonomy will be integrated into a web-based interface to improve accessibility of the PCCL (pcc.library.umass.edu).