Direct involvement in the management of collections

Breeders in many countries contribute significantly to the tasks related to the day-to-day management of national collections by providing their services directly to genebanks without any compensation in return. These activities may include several elements such as helping in setting up of collections; evaluation, characterization, documentation of PGR; maintenance of collections etc.

Private collections

French breeders have been involved in the setting up of a number of private collections covering various crops such as Brassicas, sunflower, tomato, wheat, grasses, maize etc. Based on this work, for example, 1784 accessions of wheat and 533 accessions of maize PGRFA have been notified to the MLS.

French breeders also participate(d) in the collection of material and setting up of the cauliflower collection maintained at INRA, in Ploudaniel.


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In-kind support of genebanks

For crops including cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, maize, melon, pepper, spinach, tomato and watermelon, Monsanto Company has conducted hundreds of seed increases each year for the Centre for Genetic Resources of the Netherlands (CGN), INRA (France) and the United States Department of Agriculture National Plant Germplasm System (USDA). This work, which is done at the request of a gene bank, includes growing, pollinating, collecting phenotypic data, harvesting and shipping.  For many of these crops, support has been consistently provided for over 6 years. 

In support of cotton breeding and germplasm enhancement globally, Monsanto Company provided $8,000 to Cotton Incorporated to support the CottonGen database housed at Washington State University. Financial support has been provided since 2012. In addition, Monsanto Company publicly released approximately 4,000 SSR markers, which will help cotton breeders around the world.


Contact: Roy Cantrell


Germplasm Enhancement of Maize

Monsanto has provided long-standing (20 years) support to the USDA Germplasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) program, through in-kind service in the form of approximately 2,000 yield trial plots and some nursery rows each year, and  by providing 1 to 2 elite (proprietary) lines per year for use as breeding parents. Selections from the resulting breeding populations will be made publicly available as “GEM” lines.

In term of contribution of private germplasm to the public sphere, it is also important to note that improved maize lines with expired PVP, while representing only 2% of the available material from the USDA Maize Genebank, accounted for 48% of the seed packets distributed globally in 2013, highlighting how valuable and utilized this improved germplasm has become all around the world.


Contact: Roy Cantrell


Variety evaluation

The Portuguese Plant Gene Bank is a state institution responsible for the conservation of plant genetic resources, at several levels:

-       Setting up collections of plant germplasm, by collecting or receiving copies of the materials or by the exchange of material within similar institutions.

-       Ex situ conservation (in chambers with a controlled temperature and humidity), in vitro by cryopreservation, or in a field collection.

-       In situ conservation: on farm conservation

-       Regeneration and multiplication of the genetic material, periodically. In order to have enough seeds and other propagation material available for future exchanges.

-       Profiling and evaluation of the conserved material in order to protect and acknowledge the genetic diversity and make the most of it by making it available

-       Documentation of all the information of every access since the starting point, profiling, evaluation, use exchange, until the conservation routine.

-       Exchange: Reception and distribution of the genetic material.


There are financed projects in place, between companies and INIAV, the Portuguese Institute for Agriculture and Veterinary Research, to evaluate varieties (for forage and pasture purposes) from the national plant gene bank, in order to develop new varieties which will become the property of the State and the company will be the exclusive holder of the varieties.

There is also a strong cooperation between the Lisbon Agronomy Institute and some companies, regarding the share of some vegetable varieties from the Institute’s collection.


Contact person for more information: Joana Lopes Aleixo

CIP International Potato Centre

Peru, a country that has cultivated potatoes for nearly 7,000 years, boasts on having over 4,500 varieties of the world’s favourite vegetable, the potato. This tuber comes in all shapes, colours and sizes. They aren’t just pretty to look at, but also hold up to 5 times as much vitamins, carotene, zinc and antioxidants as regular potatoes!

The remarkable traits of these native potatoes are a valuable source in developing more resilient and nutritious spuds. In fact they open up a whole new world of possibilities in fighting poverty, malnutrition and securing the world’s food supply. This is exactly what CIP International Potato Centre is striving for.

HZPC and CIP, together with national partners in Peru (Grupo Yanapai, INIA, SPDA) have started to work on a novel model to practically implement benefit sharing with custodian farmers.

The consortium of institutions wants to empower the farmers to organize and represent themselves, so they benefit maximum from a start-up fund made available by HZPC. To give this shape they helped them to initiate an association, which is now running a pilot with 43 custodian farmers. The farmers recently spend their first money on agricultural inputs, education and health care.


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National Collection

French breeders contribute to the long-term maintenance of the national collection of artichokes; further on, they participate in the French network of genetic resources regarding carrots, eggplant, tomato, melon, chicory, lettuce, onions and also to the MATREF network managed by GEVES. Through this participation they contribute to the maintenance of the national collections with activities relating to multiplication of material, evaluation, characterization and documentation.

They also take part in several professional associations and collaborate with public research institutes in projects focused on conservation, characterization, sustainable use and distribution of genetic resources.


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Whealbi project

Under the 7th Framework Program of the EU the Whealbi project (“Wheat and barley Legacy for Breeding Improvement”) was launched in 2014. One of the objectives of the project is to develop guidelines and protocols for Next Generation Valorization and Utilization of PGRFA collections.

There are some plant breeding companies involved in this project as project partners, one of which is an Italian seed company SIS, Società Italiana Sementi.


Contact person for more information: Gilles Charmet (Coordinateur du projet Whealbi, Unité de recherche "Génétique, diversité et écophysiologie des céréales")


EVA project

Back in the mid 1990s, scientists and plant breeders jointly founded the German evaluation program EVA for barley and wheat. The program is designed to evaluate genotypes preserved in gene banks or used in research projects for disease resistance against a set of harmonized criteria.

The project has been coordinated by the Institute for Research in Resistance and Stress Tolerance of the Julius Kühn Institute in Quedlinburg.

The results will be published in a database that will be availablefor the use of scientists, plant breeders and the greater public.


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In the past 25 years, various fodder grasses have been successfully evaluated in co-operation with the gene banks (perennial ryegrass, meadow fescue, smooth meadow grass etc.).

These research approaches have been devised as public-private-partnerships in which a set of grass genotypes is sent to be evaluated to several partners (plant breeders and research institutions). The results of the evaluation have been included in the descriptive database. 


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Input in Kind to CGN

Dutch breeders support approximately 10-15 % of the budget of the Dutch gene bank through:


- taking care of seed multiplication, on the basis of protocols provided by CGN, from various vegetable species, like lettuce, spinach, allium species, peas, faba bean

- taking care of seed multiplication, on the basis of protocols provided by CGN, of field crops like maize.

- evaluation of (parts of) CGN collections to create more knowledge on the genetic resources in particular with regard to abiotic and biotic stress; this allows users to make more optimal use of the genetic resources.


Several breeding companies signed collaboration agreements with the Dutch gene bank CGN to formalize the above described collaboration and the intention to continue the collaboration in the future.


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