Genesys, the global online portal to information about plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA) in genebanks, has been significantly enhanced with the introduction of the Genesys Catalog for Phenotypic Datasets.
“Genesys has been publishing basic information about germplasm samples like source, origin and taxonomy for almost a decade. We call this ‘passport data’,” said Nora Castañeda-Álvarez, the Genesys Catalog Coordinator. “With the Genesys Catalog, we are enabling genebanks to publish additional information about their samples, like the size and shape of leaves or the color of seeds and flowers, or even yield or drought tolerance. These data can help users focus their requests for genetic material.”
Germany’s Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) has funded the two-year project to establish the Genesys Catalog. The project aims to make the wealth of characterization and evaluation data on genebank accessions accessible to plant breeders online via Genesys.
Passport, characterization and evaluation data are valuable for germplasm users like plant breeders, who can use them to select the genetic material they will request from genebanks. For example, say a breeder wants to develop a tomato variety which is tolerant to whitefly (Bemisia tabaci). It’s a pest that can devastate tomato production and is hard to fight with pesticides. She knows that the World Vegetable Center hosts almost 6,500 samples of tomato genetic resources, but which one to ask for?
To focus her germplasm search, the breeder could request materials collected in countries where both the crop and the pest are present, assuming that at least some varieties must have developed a certain degree of tolerance to the pest. However, whitefly affects tomatoes in many different countries, and therefore, our breeder would still end up with a huge set of samples for their research.
Now, with the Genesys Catalog, she can check the dataset Biotic stress resistance data of accessions of tomato wild relatives (Solanum spp.) accessions from the WorldVeg genebank collection. This contains data on 20 different plant traits associated with tolerance to whitefly for a range of wild tomato samples conserved at the World Vegetable Center. Based on this information, the breeder can identify the most appropriate two or three accessions to include in their particular breeding program.