Conservation and availability of plant genetic diversity


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Dr. Ehsan Dulloo discusses conservation strategies to respond to the global loss of plant genetic resources at the 29th International Horticulture Congress, including ex situ conservation, in situ conservation, cryopreservation, seed banks and the importance of crop wild relatives.

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Conservation and availability of plant genetic diversity

  1. 1. Conservation and Availability of Plant Genetic Diversity: Innovative Strategies and Technologies Ehsan Dulloo, Leader Conservation and Availability Programme Bioversity International IHC 2014 Symposium 27 - Plant Genetic Resources for Climate Change Brisbane, Australia, August 2014
  2. 2. Our Vision: Agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet Our Mission: To deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security. Credit:IWMINeilPalmeri
  3. 3. • Key challenges facing food and nutritional security • Conservation strategies and technologies; focusing on status and trends of PGRFA • Strategies for prioritizing, measuring, and monitoring the trends in genetic diversity • Way forward Overview BioversityInternationalY.Wachira
  4. 4. 4 The 21st Century Challenge To feed 9 billion people by 2050, food supplies need to increase by 60% globally, and 100% in developing countries. 60% FAO Save and Grow, 2011
  5. 5. 5 Climate Change Climate change may reduce agricultural production 2% each decade while demand increases 14%. Up to 40% of the world will develop unfamiliar climates. CCAFS Big Facts, 2014 IPCC, 2014
  6. 6. 6 Double-burden malnutrition Once considered a high-income problem, overweight and obesity are on the rise in low and middle-income countries, especially in urban settings. At the same time, 1 billion people suffer from “hidden hunger.”
  7. 7. How will the world address these challenges?
  8. 8. Agricultural biodiversity Increasing the sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity in production systems, in landscapes and in diets will be an important part of the solution to these challenges. FAO, 2012 FAO, 2012
  9. 9. Status of Plant Genetic Resources • Two critical issues: – Loss of species and genetic diversity – Improve optimum use of plant genetic resources Credit:BioversityInternationalE.Dulloo
  10. 10. 10 There are two responses to the loss of global crop diversity: Ex situ conservation In situ conservation Home Gardens On farm Wild habitats
  11. 11. 11 Ex situ conservation • Aim is to keep germplasm alive as long as possible • Reduce frequency of regeneration - minimize genetic erosion • Germplasm are conserved in a variety of ways • Seed banks • Field genebank • In vitro /slow growth • Cryopreservation • DNA Banks • Botanic gardens
  12. 12. 12 • Geographic distribution of genebanks with holdings of >10,000 accessions • More than 1.4 million germplasm accessions have been added to ex situ collections, 7.4 M. • 30% of accessions are distinct • More than 70% of the genetic diversity of some 200-300 crops (SBSTTA, 2010) • Global Crop Diversity Trust established in 2004 • Establishment of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a last resort safety back-up of genetic resources to safeguard humanity. Source: WIEWS 2009; Country Reports; USDA-GRIN 2009 State of ex situ conversation of plant genetic resources since 1998
  13. 13. 13 Seed banks • Relies on storage of dry seeds at low temperature • Factors affecting seed longevity: – temperature – Seed moisture content – Relative Humidity • Global, Regional, national as well as community seed banks. • FAO New Genebank standards 2013; – produced one standard rather than acceptable and preferred standards; – acquisition, characterization, drying & storage conditions; viability, regeneration etc.
  14. 14. 14 • Variability in seed longevity; different species shows different responses to storage environments (Probert et al. 2009; Nagel and Borner 2009; Crawford; et al. 2007; Walters et al., 2005) • Potential of Ultra-dry seeds in low cost seed conservation; relationship between critical MC, RH and storage temperature. – Water and temperature has interacting effects on longevity – Critical water content increased from about 1 to 4% with decreased storage temperature from 50º to 20ºC Seed conservation – research questions
  15. 15. 15 Field genebanks • Field genebanks are live plant collections for species : • vegetatively propagated (cassava, sweet potatoes, yams etc.), • Short lived plants; • produce recalcitrant seeds (rubber, cocoa, mango etc.)
  16. 16. 16 In vitro storage Germplasm are kept as sterile plant tissue or plantlets maintained either under slow growth on nutrient gels
  17. 17. 17 Cryopreservation • Storage of tissues in liquid nitrogen or nitrogen vapour (-154 to -196 ° C) • Principle - complete cessation of growth by freezing cell division and metabolic processes • Successful cryopreservation - damage by ice crystal formation is prevented or minimized.
  18. 18. 18 Cryopreservation research • Understanding the desiccation sensitivity of recalcitrant seeds and on the underlying mechanism of desiccation tolerance (Engelmann and Panis, 2009; Berjak and Pammenter, 2008; Berjak, 2005). • Development of a number of analytical tools including thermal (Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)), biochemical (sugars, lipids, proteins) and histo-cytological analyses • Cryopreservation methods can offer greater security for long term, including orthodox seeds. • Potential of cryotherapy as a way of eliminating pest and diseases (Wang et al., 2008)
  19. 19. 19 • Over 2,500 botanic gardens maintaining samples of some 80,000 plant species (FAO, 2010) • Research on seeds conservation and new biotechnologies e.g. Kew Gardens • Conservation and restoration activities • Education activities • BGCI - Global Strategy on Plant Conservation through Global Partnership on Plant Conservation Botanic gardens
  20. 20. State of in situ conservation • Increased recognition of value of crop wild relatives • Global strategy on crop wild relatives • FAO, UoB, Bioversity - Global Initiative on in situ conservation and on farm management • New priority sites for conserving crop wild relatives in situ have been identified • 30% more Protected Areas but not necessarily secure • Little progress outside protected areas. ImkeThormann,Bioversity
  21. 21. • Farmers tolerate the presence of CWR species on farm • Beneficial effects of CWR in providing useful traits/genes Research is needed • Increased collection and ex situ conservation of CWR? • Prioritization of areas for in situ conservation CWR for genetic reserves • What adaptive traits are present within in situ populations? • To what extent are gene flow and introgression happening from CWR? Crop Wild Relatives (CWR) a solution for adaptation to climate change: Geneflow
  22. 22. On farm management • Greater understanding of amount and distribution of genetic diversity; • Increase of tools and techniques for assessing PGRFA on farm; • Value of local seed systems; • More participatory on farm projects; • Legal mechanisms to enable farmers to market their local varieties Credit:BioversityInternational/R.Vodouh
  23. 23. 23 On farm conservation • Farmers who continue to grow and maintain traditional varieties and may be regarded as guardians of diversity • This retention is reinforced and maintained by the traditional networks of exchange of seeds • Locally adapted crop varieties require less pesticides and fertilizers • Reduced costs • Improved human and ecosystem health • Reduced impact on associated diversity (pollinators, soil microorganisms)
  24. 24. Global concern about the loss of genetic diversity (both ex situ collections and in situ populations) • International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture “Alarmed by the continuing erosion of these resources” [i.e. PGRFA] • Global Plan of Action on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture “Genetic erosion is reported to continue many regions of the world and the genetic vulnerability of crops has further increased”. • Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 Aichi Target 13: By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.
  25. 25. • It is clear that genetic erosion is of concern but evidence is still lacking about the rate of loss • There is no global, harmonized observation system for delivering regular, timely data on agricultural biodiversity change • Monitoring changes in genetic diversity and analyzing causes of change is still needed
  26. 26. 26 Current measurements and indicators (crops) • Monitoring progress of the implementation of second Global Plan of Action. (set of 66 indicators) • Global indicators: Significant traditional variety diversity in terms of richness and eveness (Jarvis et al., 2009, PNAS) • Set of 12 priority indicators on Agrobiodiversity conservation services was identified; (Nguyen and Drucker, 2013) • HT Integrated Indicator including Varietal richness, Spatial evenness; Effect of between-variety genetic diversity; Within- variety genetic diversity (Bonneuil et al., 2012) • Biodiversity Partnership Indicator: Enrichment Index of ex situ crop collections as an indicator on the status and trend of crop genetic diversity
  27. 27. 27 Red list for cultivated plants • Threat analysis of crop varieties/species based on level of use by local people • Drops in their use below a certain threshold, beyond which the variety/species would no longer provide the expected benefit to the community as a whole • the maintenance of associated knowledge and traditions associated to it This will allow us to assess current trends and possible decline of its cultivation over time and ensure that local crop diversity is conserved and used in most sustainable way (Padulosi and Dulloo, 2009)
  28. 28. Way Forward
  29. 29. Key Challenges to address • Capacity – Human Resources (taxonomy, in situ conservation and on farm conservation, pre-breeding ABS etc.) • Cooperation and coordination between different institution, esp. environment and agriculture sectors • National Monitoring mechanism needed • Incentive mechanism and valuation of PGRFA • Gender sensitive analysis tools and indicators- more involvement of rural women Credit:BioverstyInternationalB.Vinceti
  30. 30. National Strategic Action Plan on Genetic Resources • Road map for strengthening conservation and use of PGRFA • Focus on priority species and crops • Systematic analysis of relevant information • Participative approach
  31. 31. • Agricultural Biodiversity is important for nourishing people and sustaining the planet • Conservation technologies have evolved; while ex situ conservation technologies are well developed, there is much to be done to safeguard the diversity in situ and on farm • Despite progress made, there are still global concerns of genetic erosion and loss of biodiversity – Strengthening capacity – Improving networks - collaboration between sectors – Global Information system for agrobiodiversity – Participatory monitoring of biodiversity – Ensuring a good complementarity between ex situ, in situ and on farm conservation – Providing incentive mechanisms – Creating a good policy enabling environment Conclusion
  32. 32. Thank you