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Trends in ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources: a review of global crop and regional conservation strategies


In 2005, the newly established Global Crop Diversity Trust initiated a consultation process leading to the development of over 30 global crop and regional strategies for the ex situ conservation and utilisation of crop diversity. These strategies represent a major undertaking the field of plant genetic resources, mobilizing experts to collaboratively plan for the more efficient and effective conservation and use of crop diversity. The strategies are reviewed for eight themes: regeneration, crop wild relatives, collecting, crop descriptors, information systems, user priorities, new technologies and research, and challenges to building a strategy for rational conservation. The themes shed light upon the status, constraints, and promising directions regarding ex situ conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources globally, and provide insight into the current challenges to planning for an efficient and effective global system. The primary constraints affecting conservation, use, and planning are the quality and availability of accession-level information, and availability of resources for regeneration, collecting, and research. A series of connected organizations working at the global level are addressing some of the major constraints in regeneration, collecting, information systems, descriptors, user involvement, and new technology development, although certain crops and regions will need additional support beyond the activities currently funded, particularly in collecting and in the development of specific conservation technologies. Achieving an efficient and effective global system will depend on active support by stakeholders, and will be aided by continuing to develop the strategies and by supporting the strategies’ recommendations for efficient and effective practices in plant genetic resources.

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Financial support for the development of the strategies came from the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Global Crop Diversity Trust. The development of the global crop strategies and regional conservation strategies has directly involved many hundreds of experts, and the background data incorporated into the strategies was generated by an even greater number of professionals working in conservation and use of plant genetic resources. The authors thank all who have contributed to the creation and maintenance of the strategies, and are grateful for technical contributions to this review from Nigel Maxted.

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Correspondence to Colin Khoury.

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Khoury, C., Laliberté, B. & Guarino, L. Trends in ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources: a review of global crop and regional conservation strategies. Genet Resour Crop Evol 57, 625–639 (2010).

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  • Crop diversity
  • Ex situ conservation
  • Genebank
  • Plant genetic resources