Commit 073bd25f authored by Matija Obreza's avatar Matija Obreza
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# Apple
## Malus spp.
Like most fruit trees, selected apple varieties are generally maintained as trees in field collections. [Genesys lists almost 39,000 accessions of various kinds of apple](, including wild relatives that breeders may find useful. About 5% of the accessions are in the form of seeds, but because apple seeds do not breed true, these are not as useful to plant breeders, although they may be of value as reservoirs of diversity. A few samples of apple tissue are cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen.
Apple trees can take several years to reach fruit-bearing maturity. Traditional breeding is costly and time-consuming -- with 15-25 years between the initial cross and the release of an improved variety. For this reason, breeders have used the diversity of genebank collections to look for associations between genetic markers and the presence of certain traits, such as aroma, storage quality and disease resistance. These markers then allow breeders to screen a population of crosses for potentially worthwhile individuals before the trees have borne fruit. This approach is known as [marker assisted selection]( (MAS).
{-- MAS adds molecular information to the tools available to plant breeders. To date, it has been applied to the selection of a [wide variety of apple fruit and tree characteristics](, saving considerable effort by reducing the number of candidate progeny to be grown to maturity. It has enabled breeders to [combine different kinds of disease resistance]( into their selections. MAS is also being used to [select for rootstocks]( that will favour specific varieties and pruning systems. --}
Although very few apple accessions are known to be from wild trees, scientists have become increasingly interested in the [diversity of wild apples]( as a source for traits to improve commercial varieties.
# Genebanks
## Biodiversity in Trust
Eleven member institutes of the CGIAR Consortium maintain genebanks. Collectively, these form the largest store of agricultural biodiversity in the world. More than 710,000 accessions range from unimproved wild relatives of crops through to elite breeding lines developed by CGIAR scientists. CGIAR genebanks also maintain tree species and bacteria. Some accessions are kept as seeds, others in field genebanks and yet others in test-tube, or _in-vitro_, collections.
Over the past 10 years, CGIAR genebanks have [distributed more than a million samples]( to plant breeders and crop researchers. [^1] You can [use GENESYS to order material]( from CGIAR and other genebanks.
The accessions in the CGIAR genebanks are international public goods that the genebanks make available under conditions set out in the [International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture]( In essence, recipients of material agree that they will not further restrict the availability of such material and, if they do restrict access to new varieties derived from genebank material, they will pay a certain percentage into a common fund.
CGIAR genebanks are working towards implementing quality monitoring systems that will ensure that their operations meet the highest standards related to seed health, viability and purity and overall operational procedures.
In addition to preserving biodiversity useful to agriculture, genebanks can also contribute directly to improve the livelihoods of farming communities. For example, several genebanks have [restored lost and forgotten landraces and farmer varieties]( to communities from which they were collected. Many are also working directly with farmers in [participatory breeding and selection activities]( to help them adapt their farming systems to the challenges of climate change.
The CGIAR collections will not in and of themselves increase food security or ensure sustainability. They are, however, essential to all such efforts.
[^1]: Most recent figure I could find.
## International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas
ICARDA holds almost 150,000 accessions, largely of its mandate crops -- barley, wheat, food legumes and forage legumes -- and the _Rhizobium_ bacteria that enable legumes to fix nitrogen. About 21% of accessions are wild relatives, which are likely to [become increasingly important as sources of the genetic diversity][cwr] needed to cope with challenges such as climate change, and 4.4% are traditional varieties or landraces.
Researchers at ICARDA and in the global community use the genebank accessions in research and to develop new, [improved varieties]( Over the past decade, the genebank distributed more than 200,000 samples to 63 countries.
Scientists at ICARDA have pioneered a new approach to the discovery of valuable genetic traits, known as Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy. [FIGS]( improves the use of genetic resources by pre-selecting those accessions that are most likely to contain the traits of interest to solve a particular breeding challenge, such as tolerance to heat or resistance to a specific disease.
The genebank was established in 1983, at ICARDA's headquarters in Aleppo, Syria. Even before the unrest in Syria, the genebank had begun to store safety duplicates of its collections not only at the Svalbard Seed Vault but also at collaborating genebanks around the world. The value of these duplicate collections became obvious when the Syrian uprising threatened the very existence of the genebank.
In late 2015 ICARDA was able to retrieve many of its accessions from Svalbard to establish new facilities in Lebanon and Morocco. For ICARDA's efforts in protecting the genebank and its accessions, the Gregor Mendel Foundation awarded the genebank its [Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize]( in March 2015.
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