Collections of crop wild relatives and pre-breeding material need to be used actively. In order for this material to be used, data about the material needs to be of as high quality, and as easily accessible, as the seeds and breeding material themselves. Therefore, the Crop Wild Relatives Project is working to build information systems to help manage and search crop collections globally.
Data about the samples collected stored during the collecting expeditions is stored on Genesys. The Genesys online portal provides a single entry point to data on plant genetic resources maintained around the world. It is a gateway from which germplasm accessions from genebanks can be easily found and ordered.
Genesys makes available critical data on crop collections, such as accession-level passport, characterization and evaluation data, as well as environmental information associated with accession collecting sites. It is also a mechanism for crop collections to share their data, according to agreed standards, thus contributing significantly to the development of a comprehensive global information system on crop diversity.
Genesys is the result of collaboration between Bioversity International on behalf of System-wide Genetic Resources Programme of the CGIAR, the Crop Trust, and the Secretariat of the International Treaty on the Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Pre-breeders generate a lot of data. A LOT of data. They can make thousands of crosses between wild and domesticated species of food crops and evaluate those thousands of crosses under various conditions, in different climates and countries. Then they’ll make backcrosses and evaluate those crosses. Collecting and managing the data is hard work but analyzing it is an even bigger challenge – but one that must be addressed if pre-breeding is going to contribute to the development of studier ‘climate-proof’ crops.
The Project has teamed up with the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie, Scotland to ensure the CWR project’s pre-breeding data is available in a format that allows breeders and scientists to view and analyze the data as easily as possible. Hutton has been developing software known as Germinate which is specifically tailored to handle complex data from the use of plant genetic resources collections.