Submitted to: International Congress on Oasis and Sustainable Tourism
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: July 16, 2008
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Germplasm repositories have the mission of acquiring, preserving, distributing, and evaluating genetic resources of crop plants. In the case of the date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L), most of these functions were supplied by traditional oases. This is similar to the role of farmers in preserving genetic resources of crops before there were formal systems for doing so. The distinct oases preserved a mix of date palm varieties. These included seedlings, which provided a range of genetic diversity, as well as elite lines propagated clonally. The elite varieties were sometimes traded or moved between oases. Thus the acquisition, maintenance, and evaluation functions were replicated. Current collections of date palm genetic resources were established from genotypes coming from oases. However, evaluation of oasis date palms was not done except in the case of fruit qualities. Evaluation of genetic resources present in oases might potentially donate valuable genes to be maintained in the formal repositories. Conversely, germplasm repositories can donate varieties with unique characteristics that might be valuable in a specific oasis. Future preservation of date palm genetic resources will benefit from a close association between traditional oases and formal date palm germplasm repositories.
Traditional date palm oases have served as conservators of date palm genetic resources. There have been only a few studies on the population structure of these oases or evaluations of non-fruit-related characteristics. A system is needed in which regional germplasm repositories for date palm genetic resources interact with and support traditional oases.