DivSeek aims to unlock the potential of crop diversity stored in genebanks around the globe and make it available to all so that it can be utilized to enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crops and agricultural systems.
“As the world’s population grows, global demand for food is predicted to nearly double. The number of people at risk of hunger in the developing world is estimated to grow to more than a billion people by 2050” (GODAN).
“Today, few countries lack a national genebank, and the value placed by governments on crop diversity is reflected in the dramatic increase in the number of collections and of the accessions they hold in the past 30 years. FAO documents that 7.4 million accessions (about 2 million of which are estimated to be unique) are now conserved ex situ in over 1,750 facilities worldwide” (The Crop Trust).
Although modern agriculture has achieved notable increases in overall yield, relying on a small number of crops creates a more vulnerable agricultural system, which is less resilient and adaptable to threats such as climate change and pests and diseases.
Access to the crop diversity already stored in genebanks will require the characterization of this material via the application of state-of-the-art genomics, phenomics and molecular technologies, and the release of the subsequent data through an online, open access portal. Identifying and appraising sources of genetic variation is a critical part of any long-term strategy to enhance the productivity, sustainability and resilience of crop varieties and agricultural systems.
DivSeek Initiative is going to meet this need, by unlocking the potential of crop diversity stored in genebanks around the globe and making it available to all. The DivSeek initiative will develop a unified, coordinated and cohesive information management platform to provide easy access to genotypic and phenotypic data associated with genebank germplasm.
Almost seventy organizations worldwide are already partners of DivSeek by endorsing the DivSeek Charter. DivSeek is open to institutions from all relevant sectors, including public, private, academic, civil society and intergovernmental organizations. DivSeek and its partners are expected to trigger networking among otherwise disconnected efforts, and to contribute to significant activities and outputs for the plant breeding and conservation community.
DivSeek will help to bridge the gap between the information requirements of genebank curators, plant breeders and more targeted biological researchers, to support applied germplasm curation, forward-looking breeding programs and strategic research.
To actively engage DivSeek Partners in addressing issues of importance to the DivSeek community, DivSeek is establishing a number of Working Groups, such as:
- Interoperable Tools
- Genebank Information Management
- Genomics For Genebanks
- Phenotyping For Genebanks
- Harmonizing Trait Data
- Minor And Underutilised Crops
- Operational Guidelines
# Participation in Working Groups is open to any DivSeek member. If you would like to join a Working Group please email [email protected] stating your name, partner affiliation and the Working Group you would like to join.
HERE you can READ and DOWNLOAD the official DivSeek white paper, detailing the work and results to come from the DivSeek initiative.
Cooperation among interested parties and the unlocked data about crop diversity will provide unprecedented insights into the intricate and finely tuned genetic networks that enable plants to respond to subtle or catastrophic perturbations in the environment. It will also present novel solutions and ingenious templates that can serve as a blueprint for accelerating plant breeding to provide sustainable food security for humanity.
# HERE you can read more about ongoing activities of DivSeek.
# STAY INFORMED about the DivSeek Initiative (DivSeek Mailing List).
Might also be of your interest:
- Crop Trust - an international organization working to safeguard crop diversity (portal)
- European genebanks in the genomics era (slides)
- Crop gene banks are preserving the future of agriculture. but who’s preserving them? (blog)