Specialized Collections

There remain many ways of achieving the same goal of secure conservation of germplasm, maintaining viability and genetic integrity of the world’s crop diversity. Development of best practices needs to take into account the options available, their consequences, disadvantages and advantages for reaching the desired output. Strategic analysis and planning are the first steps in priority setting among options to develop recommendations on what might be the a group of best practices that are both efficient, effective and practical and can be easily used in many genebanks.

An important issue for analysis and planning is the funding of conservation efforts and the efficient use of scarce resources. The recommendation on a best practice is often a balance between what is best scientifically and what has a good cost-benefit ratio that can easily be applied in many crop genebanks.

In addition to the crop germplasm, many genebanks have assembled specialized collections, DNA and other genetic and genomic materials and the related information used in research to identify genes of value in genebank collections. Some genebanks also hold collections of plant pests and disease organisms, beneficial organisms and other elements of biological diversity used in research for crop improvement and enhancement of ecosystem productivity, resilience and sustainability. Many national genebanks hold collections of minor crops which are important for food security and are under-researched which have been termed neglected and underutilized species.

Currently there are no documented strategies to support the enhanced management of these specialized collections. Since many are under-researched, there is also little available information on practices and procedures to ensure their long term conservation.

The following pages cover the results of activities on collecting information about these collections and developing strategies for the management of:

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.