Commission Plant Genetic Resources update January 2014

Dr. Hannah Jaenicke
Commission Plant Genetic Resources update January 2014

Dear Members of the Commission Plant Genetic Resources - as the year 2014 has started I would like to give you an update of activities of the Commission in 2013 and our plans for the time ahead.

Updates from the Working Groups

PG1: Plant Genebank Management

The 2nd ISHS International Symposium on Plant Cryopreservation was held successfully in Fort Collins, USA 11-14 August 2013. This symposium was a joint venture of the Working Group Plant Genebank Management within the Commission Plant Genetic Resources and the Working Group "Non-conventional conservation of genetic resources of horticultural crops" within the Commission Molecular Biology and in vitro Culture. Plans are to hold the next Plant Cryopreservation Symposium, again jointly organised under leadership of the CMMV in 2017 in Cuba. We will need further discussion how to distinguish PG1 from the activities of CMMV in the future.

PG2: Ornamental Genetic Resources

The proceedings of the International Congress of Germplasm of Ornamentals that was held in Beijing, China 16-20 July 2012 was published in record time in February 2013 as Acta Horticulturae number 977 and contains 50 papers under the headers New Floriculture Crops, Genetics and Breeding, Genetic Diversity and Utilization of Genetic Diversity. Planning for the second International Symposium on Ornamental Germplasm is underway for July 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

PG3: Underutilized Plant Genetic Resources

A proposal by Dr C. Ravindran, Krishi Vigyan Kendra Agricultural College and Research Institute in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India has been put before the ISHS to convene the next International ISHS Symposium on Underutilized Plants scheduled for 2015. In September 2013, Bioversity International, Crops for the Future and partners convened the Third International Conference on Neglected and Underutilized Species for a Food-Secure Africa in Accra, Ghana, which was also endorsed by the ISHS Commission Plant Genetic Resources and attended by several of its members.

The year was further filled with preparations of the upcoming International Symposium on Plant Genetic Resources for Climate Change during IHC2014 in Brisbane, Australia next August 17-22.

The Symposium is co-convened by ISHS, the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Griffith University and Bioversity International, and has been endorsed by the ISHS Commissions on Nomenclature and Cultivar Registration and Molecular Biology and in-vitro Culture as well as ISHS Section Tropical and Subtropical Fruits.

The symposium will provide a forum to present and discuss the latest research on strategies and technologies for plant genetic resources characterization, conservation and use. The symposium's focus will be on the importance of plant genetic diversity for increased resilience to climate change, and will include discussions on international instruments, novel approaches to conservation and use, and community-based initiatives. Contributions are coming from all sectors working with plant genetic resources with a view to broadening the discussion and the exchange of ideas to inform horticultural practice for climate change. This includes botanical gardens and herbaria, seed collectors and suppliers, seed banks, government agencies, ornamental and medicinal plant industries, community groups, public education and awareness groups as well as the broader agro-forestry industry and the nutrition sector.

The Organizing Committee (Hannah Jaenicke (ISHS), Mary Taylor (ISHS), Luigi Guarino (GCDT), Sarah Ashmore (U Griffith), Ehsan Dulloo (Bioversity International)) met monthly via skype to develop the programme. We are pleased to report that, with the support of the Symposium's Scientific Committee, we have been able to accept 76 abstracts for oral and poster presentation. In addition, we are now preparing an evening workshop under the theme of "Strengthening informal seed systems: integrating plant genetic resource conservation within a larger development".

The purpose of the workshop, which will be introduced with a presentation by Walter de Boef, responsible for seed systems at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is to discuss and promote a more integrated approach to see production and dissemination that can strengthen the functioning of informal seed systems with a focus on food security, poverty alleviation, community resilience and Farmers' Rights, while also promoting the conservation and use of plant genetic resources.

Please do plan to attend the many interesting events at the International Horticultural Congress and particularly the Plant Genetic Resources Symposium. I look forward to meet many of you in Brisbane, where we will also hold the Commission's Business meeting, which is an important event for members to provide input into the Commission's activities.

With my warmest wishes for a successful and healthy year ahead,
Dr. Hannah Jaenicke
Chair, ISHS Commission Plant Genetic Resources

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