Taking stock: a nationwide survey of plant genetic resources in Australia

May 20, 2022


Eucalyptus, Acacia, Tea tree, Macadamia. Even if you’ve never set foot in Australia, you’ve probably heard of these plant genera.

That’s because these plants are not only valuable for their inherent beauty and ecosystem services, but also as natural resources that are harvested and exported at a global scale.

Australasia has a wealth of new and emerging native crop plants. Preserving our local biodiversity depends largely on our ability to appropriately manage their genetic diversity, to build resilient populations safeguarded against a changing climate.

But managing genetic diversity is no easy task – it will require the combined efforts of scientists around the world, and importantly, the data infrastructure to support their collaboration.

That is why this month, we have launched the DivSeek Regional Hub for Australasia Survey of Genetic Resources.

Funded by BioPlatforms Australia, this project is a stocktake of plant genetic resources housed across Australia – from tissue samples, all the way to extracted DNA and genomic data.

The goal is to firstly understand the breadth of resources that already exist; then, to work alongside curators to build a national database of plant genetic resources.

We are hoping that this will become a living catalogue of collectories and biobanks, that anyone from any sector will be able to tap into.

It will streamline the process of scientific enquiry, and it will ensure that these valuable specimens are being utilised to their full scientific potential.

If you are based in Australia and you or your organisation has a collection – no matter how small – we want to hear from you.

DivSeek editorial: Establishing a DivSeek Regional Hub can empower your research team, by connecting them to the regional community for plant genetic resources, and rapidly attracting funding for new initiatives. If you would like to discuss opportunities, contact [email protected].