Most genebanks use their own systems of labelling for the material they manage, so identifying accessions can be a challenge.
But DOIs, or digital object identifiers, are a promising way to standardize identification across genebanks.
Imagine if each genebank accession were to be assigned its own DOI – a unique alphanumeric string that identifies content and establishes a permanent digital point of reference.
That would mean that when a specific accession was used for research or breeding, the DOI could be referenced in any resulting publication, or linked to any derived products, such as new varieties – in perpetuity.
DOIs are designed to work with existing identifiers, so data curators can take advantage of them without having to modify their current processes.
The use of DOIs is just getting started, facilitated by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. As adoption increases, genebanks and their users will be able to track where accessions have proved useful in breeding and research and help inform future users.