Genetic erosion in crop species is occurring around the world. Traditional varieties are being replaced by modern cultivars, agricultural land is shrinking due to urbanization and desertification, and native habitats that support wild species, including important crop relatives are shrinking. Loss of biodiversity is permanent. Although technological advances make it possible to transfer useful genes between different species, the genes themselves are not engineered, but have developed in the natural world through evolutionary processes.
Our mission is to develop a comprehensive conservation program that efficiently and effectively conserves and promotes the use of genetic diversity within temperate forage legume species. Guided by the principles of conservation genetics we focus on acquiring, maintaining evaluating, documenting and distributing accessions in the temperate forage legume collections. Our current emphasis is on:
- Refining the collection so it effectively serves the dual purpose of conserving genetic diversity within the crop gene pools, and satisfying current and future needs of breeders and research scientists.
- Developing a facility specialized in producing seed of perennial forage legume species requiring caged isolation and pollination using bees. We are developing procedures that ensure we maintain the genetic integrity of individual accessions during the seed increase process.
- Providing comprehensive, accurate and easily-accessed information on the accessions in the collection, assisting users in selecting material from the collection, and ensuring prompt delivery of seed requests in an effort to promote the use of diverse germplasm to guard against genetic vulnerability and to enhance the development of sustainable farming practices.
In carrying out our mission, we work closely with the United States Crop Germplasm Committees as well as members of the international community who share a similiar mission.