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Assembling a core collection from the flax world collection maintained by Plant Gene Resources of Canada


Between 1998 and 2008, numerous projects were conducted by the Canadian national genebank, Plant Gene Resources of Canada, for the regeneration, characterization and evaluation of the whole flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) germplasm collection. The whole collection comprised 3378 accessions and, according to the passport data, several of these were probably genetically very similar or even identical. Therefore, a subset of 381 accessions was selected that represented the diversity found in the whole collection. Sampling accessions from the whole collection was made using characterization and evaluation data and followed six different methods: (1) For seven qualitative characters, each unique combination of character expression was represented by three accessions; (2) for quantitative characters, a fixed number of accessions representing the lowest and highest observed values was included; (3) for stem fibre content, disease ratings, seed vigour and drought tolerance, a fixed number of accessions with desirable performance was included; (4) a subset of the 57 most distinct accessions based on RAPD markers was included; (5) a subset of 40 pure lines that were created based on extreme low and high values for 1000 seed weight, seed oil content and fatty acid profiles was included; (6) a subset of fibre flax cultivars of known relevance in European flax breeding and another subset of flax cultivars of known relevance for North American linseed breeding were included. The goal was to maximize the diversity available in a limited number of flax accessions by preserving the range of variation present in the whole collection, while improving evenness. The core collection was assembled in response to requests by flax breeders. This paper compares distribution parameters in the whole and core collections.

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The financial support obtained for conducting several projects on flax germplasm from the Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission allowed for hiring several student helpers and we thank all of them. The very helpful comments by the anonymous reviewers are appreciated.

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Correspondence to Axel Diederichsen.

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Diederichsen, A., Kusters, P.M., Kessler, D. et al. Assembling a core collection from the flax world collection maintained by Plant Gene Resources of Canada. Genet Resour Crop Evol 60, 1479–1485 (2013).

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  • Characterization
  • Core subset
  • Evaluation
  • Flax
  • Genebank
  • Linseed
  • Linum usitatissimum