Submitted to: Biodiversity Issues
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2008
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
Citation: Walters, C.T., Volk, G.M., Richards, C.M. 2008. Genebanks in the post-genomic age: emerging roles and anticipated uses. Biodiversity Issues 9:68-71. Interpretive Summary: Genebanks house a wide array of biological materials (accessions) collected and distributed for conservation and science. These biological repositories support an ever expanding group of users who seek to understand biological diversity and its benefits, the conditions that sustain it and the implications for its loss. Genebanks strive to have genetic resources and associated data available for future needs and these needs change with scientific developments. Anticipating and accommodating users’ future needs is the basis of an emerging discipline known as repository biology.
Technical Abstract: Genebanks assemble, preserve and distribute genetic resources that are critical for research on biological diversity in a changing world. Traditional users of genebanks for crop improvement and rare specimen preservation are now joined by scientists from increasingly diverse disciplines who need access to broad collections of quality-assured materials with good physical integrity and associated provenance, phenotypic, genotypic and ecological data. The changing role of genebanks requires a critical evaluation of the genebanking process to ensure that different conservation targets are adequately captured and maintained ex situ. To meet the needs of diverse users, genebanks require better technologies to preserve viability, greater emphasis on wild-collected germplasm and enhanced interoperability of information among various collections-based institutions. The impact of genebanks is contingent on our ability to anticipate future uses and applications of genetic resources in the broadest context.