DOI see the future of genebank documentation?

Mike Jackson, indefatigable blogger and former manager of the IRRI genebank (among other things), is on a mission.

I’m on the editorial board of Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. I have proposed to the Editor-in-Chief that any manuscript that does not include the germplasm accession numbers (or provenance of the germplasm used) should be automatically sent back to the authors for revision, and even rejected if this information cannot be provided, whatever the quality of the science! Listing the germplasm accession numbers should become a requirement for publication.

Draconian response? Pedantic even? I don’t think so, since it’s a fundamental germplasm management and use issue.

As regular readers will suspect, we’re totally behind Mike’s pedantically draconian suggestion here. We’ve said much the same thing ourselves on occasion. We’ve even taken it a step further and suggested globally unique identifiers for each genebank accession. Well, not entirely coincidentally, Genesys has just announced a major new feature along these lines:

Genesys database was upgraded to allow for enhanced handling of archived accession data. Accession records in Genesys are assigned a Universally Unique Identifier and are accessible with Persistent Uniform Resource Locators.

A step in the right direction? Over to you, genebank data geeks.

5 Replies to “DOI see the future of genebank documentation?”

  1. Today I’ve been asked to review another manuscript with the same issue. All accession numbers omitted! Also the source of control check varieties is not given. And there is poor use of the terms ‘accession’, ‘genotype’, ‘variety’, ‘landrace’ as though they were synonymous. My crusade gathers pace!

  2. While the use of unambiguous identifiers to track reference materials is a sensible idea which should be mandatory, the assignment of yet another set of identifiers does not solve the headache that there are a lot of accessions whose origin is obscured due to poor documentation of their itinerary. A concerted effort should be made to document the most original accession number for all accessions in the global ex situ germplasm conservation system ie. if there is a barley accession that was collected by Jack Harlan, it should have his collecting number as a permanent tag and most original Id, or the the USDA accession ID under which is was first registered. A cursory look through collective databases suggests there is a lot of material that is unintentially replicated, due to ignorance of where accessions have originally come from; without anyone, except for a select few of genetic resource documentation specialists being aware of the problem…

  3. I’m not advocating any new identifiers, unique or otherwise. I just want to see the accession number under which any germ plasm was received included in the list of materials studied. So many users of rice germ plasm seem to throw that important ID away and just provide a list of names, as though each one was unique.

  4. In a review of 1991 I wrote: “There would be much less confusion and duplication of effort in future if IARCs and national programmes were to adopt a uniform international numbering system for germplasm samples, with each sample receiving a unique number. At present each institute assigns its own number, and samples, as they are exchanged with national programmes and evaluated, accumulate several different numbers, possibly losing their original number in the process. While institutes may prefer to use their own numbering system for internal management, each institute should always, when exchanging samples, use the international number. ” One could ask why it has taken 24 years and counting. Thousands of taxonomic revisions as a matter of course use unique specimen identifiers, usually “collector name plus serial number of collected sample” (over the collector’s entire lifetime)

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