How to genebank, and why

The third edition of “Strategies and guidelines for developing, managing and utilising ex situ collections” from the Australian Network for Plant Conservation is out and it’s nothing short of monumental. Here’s the contents.

Chapter 1: Introduction.
Chapter 2: Options, major considerations and preparation for plant germplasm conservation.
Chapter 3: Genetic guidelines for acquiring and maintaining collections for ex situ conservation.
Chapter 4: Seed and vegetative material collection.
Chapter 5: Seed banking: orthodox seeds.
Chapter 6: Identifying and conserving non-orthodox seeds.
Chapter 7: Seed germination and dormancy.
Chapter 8: The role of the plant nursery in ex situ conservation.
Chapter 9: Tissue culture.
Chapter 10: Cryopreservation.
Chapter 11: Living plant collections.
Chapter 12: Isolation, propagation and storage of orchid mycorrhiza and legume rhizobia.
Chapter 13: Special collections and under-represented taxa in Australasian ex situ conservation programs.
Chapter 14: Risk management and preparing for crises.
Chapter 15: Maintenance, utilisation and information storage.

There are also 50 case studies, focusing on Australian examples, including this on sorghum wild relatives.

And, given the news about the threats to crop wild relatives and trees, it’s all just as well.

6 Replies to “How to genebank, and why”

  1. Looks like a great contribution. We need strong awareness raising and encouragement to see gene banks not just as final resting places for historic exotic germplasm, but also as portals for highly needed useful genetic diversity for future introgression into modern crops. Synthetic wheat, containing wheat’s wild ancestors, and now in a growing number of CIMMYT’s new bread wheat germplasm, is a very educational example of that. British and Canadian breeders in the early and mid 1990s thought it would be a disaster, worrying about breaking up linkage blocks of useful genes. But synthetic wheat has opened up new doors to combat several biotic and abiotic stresses in wheat. Taking one more step than you dare, can pay off.

  2. Maarten: You mention future introgression into modern crops. There is an additional possibility of the domestication of new crops from genebank samples. We recently looked at the first three cereal domesticates. Each of the three had a wild relatives with long awns capable of burying seed (we think to survive annual grassland fires).
    My eyes nearly popped out to see the Australian report fig. 7.21, on Sorghum. Species of the Australian Section Stiposorghum all have long awns (geniculate, with a twisted column) capable of seed burying (and Australia is noted for fire ecology). If I wanted to domesticate a new crop I’d be onto these species like a shot.
    Australia, like Africa, also has its own wild rice – awned and capable of seed burying in seasonal playa wetlands. Wish I were young again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *