Conserving biodiversity

December 15, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Global efforts to conserve and utilize plant biodiversity are underpinned by the FAO’s ‘Global plan of action for the conservation and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture’. The plan will be periodically updated in light of new research, expert reviews, and the priorities of participating countries. A recent meeting, involving 20 experts from Central Asia, West Asia and North Africa, provided key inputs for the next revision.

The meeting, hosted at ICARDA headquarters last month, recommended important changes in emphasis in the next Global Plan of Action, including greater efforts on maintaining agrobiodiversity (including wild relatives of crops) in situ as well as ex situ, and utilization of genetic resources for plant breeding and rehabilitation of degraded areas. Another recommendation related to the methods used to identify, from large genebank collections, genotypes with useful traits. The meeting recommended that the ‘core collections’ approach, used with varying degrees of success, gradually be replaced with new tools such as the Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy (FIGS), developed by ICARDA and its partners. FIGS has proved successful in identifying novel sources of resistance to a number of biotic and abiotic stresses in dry environments.

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