Approaches to enhance the value of genetic resources in crop improvement uri icon


  • Plant genetic resources are the basic raw materials for future genetic progress and aninsurance against unforeseen threats to future agricultural production. Its use in cropimprovement is one of the most sustainable ways to conserve valuable genetic resources.Over 6 million ex situ germplasm accessions are conserved in 1308 genebanks globally, ofwhich, about 10% ARE held in trust by the CGIAR centers? genebanks. ICRISAT has oneof the largest genebanks in the CGIAR system, holding 119,074 accessions of its mandatecrops from 144 countries (as of May 09). Of these, 113,830 accessions are designated to theInternational Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture under theauspices of FAO. The genetic base of improved cultivars of many crops, includingICRISAT mandate crops, is narrow. In spite of large number of germplasm accessionsavailable in the genebanks, there has been very limited use of these accessions in cropimprovement programs. The reasons for the underutilization of germplasm include i) lackof accurate and precise large scale multi-location evaluation of germplasm, ii) lack ofrational systematic entry points into the vast international collections, and the iii) lack ofrobust, cost-effective tools to facilitate the efficient utilization of exotic germplasm in plantbreeding programs. Clearly, there is a need to increase the use of genetically diversegermplasm with beneficial traits in crop improvement programs to meet the emergingchallenges in agricultural production. We discuss below the range of information that wehave generated about the germplasm collections and the approaches to use information toidentify genetically diverse germplasm. Included in the discussion are also updates on themanual for genebank operations and procedures, information bulletin on mini core, cropgermplasm registration, feedback on germplasm utilization, and impact of germplasm incrop improvement

publication date

  • 2009