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Research Project: Innovations that Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Managing and Preserving Ex Situ Plant Germplasm Collections

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Title: Ex situ conservation of germplasm collections from natural populations

Author
item Walters, Christina
item Richards, Christopher
item Volk, Gayle

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2017
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: There is a renewed interest for ex situ conservation of genetic diversity of plants in North America that are wild but congeneric to our crops. These materials promise to be even more challenging than the germplasm currently maintained in genebanks. Yet, these material offer tremendous opportunity if the collection, maintenance and regeneration are done with the ultimate user in mind. Here we review current principles guiding genebank operations and trouble-shoot activities that may be more challenging when working with wild-collected materials.

Technical Abstract: Genebanks are tasked with maintaining genetic resources that support agriculture. They must keep a diverse array of samples alive for decades to centuries. Controlled conditions within the genebank are necessary to maintain quality and ensure consistency of the sample through time. Challenges for providing quality and consistency increase with samples that are mostly unstudied, highly heterogeneous and respond in unpredicted ways, as is the case for samples collected from the wild. The task of genebanking will be facilitated by better definitions of the “conservation target,” meaning the level of diversity that the sample is intended to represent. With that definition, collectors will have better knowledge of what and where to collect – and when to stop -- and ‘fit-for-purpose’ samples will be preserved. Major uncertainties persist about the life expectancy of the sample and whether genebanking imposes genetic shifts. Standards have been recommended by the international community to ensure lasting quality of samples despite a large number of unknowns. We believe some of these standards will be counter-productive or unobtainable for wild-collected samples, and we have offered alternatives that stress documentation so future genebank users can predict whether a sample will suit their needs.