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Germplasm Resources Unit – A National Capability

National Capabilities

  • BBSRC funds a number of ‘national capabilities’ that are hosted and maintained at Institutes.  A National Capability (NC) is defined as a capability (e.g. personnel, infrastructure, facilities, biological collections, databases) that is essential either as a single point of capability, or part of capability, required for UK national strategic purposes, or as an essential, strategic component of the international research base. NCs are by definition externally facing and engaged with the user community e.g. UK, international, commercial, general public; available for access by appropriately qualified academics in UK academic institutions (and to international academics and the commercial sector).

Germplasm Resources Unit – A National Capability

The conservation, maintenance and provision of verified, well characterised germplasm resources are essential in underpinning large sections of the UK and international bioscience community and related industries. Such ex-situ resources are central in providing the necessary genetic variation for plant scientists, biochemists and food scientists and are a vital resource for breeders for screening for novel traits and adaptive variation for use in crop improvement. They also act as important repositories for reference stocks for published material.

The JIC Germplasm Resources Unit (GRU) resources help to underpin the key BBSRC strategic objective relating to food security through sustainable crop production in a rapidly changing world. They provide access to extensive adaptive variation, thereby facilitating the study of evolution and domestication, or how to deal with biotic and abiotic stresses. Specifically, they provide ready access to diverse genetic variation in some of our major food crops and their wild relatives and to mutation stocks, near-isogenic lines and mapping populations. They are also important in the effort to improve the productivity and quality of crop plants for food and industrial purposes including the exploitation of plant products for bioenergy and industrial biotechnology.

The GRU at JIC provides a nationally unique resource, maintaining germplasm resources and associated information for the benefit of both JIC and the broader research community. The collections are unique representing the most comprehensive resources of UK small grain cereal germplasm in addition to the JI pea collection. The main public germplasm collections curated by the GRU have been formally registered as part of the Multilateral System of the International Treatyof Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture operated under the auspices of the FAO.

The future plans for the GRU are focused on improving the characterisation and QA of the collections and in expanding their role as a community resource through the strengthening of germplasm resources awareness and co-ordination across UK and through the radical overhaul and redevelopment of web searchable databases and other web resources as community resources initiatives.

Further details of the JIC Germplasm Collections