DivSeek in San Diego – highlights from our AGM and PAG 30 workshops

February 20, 2023

Photo credit: PAG 30

On January 12, 2023, DivSeek International Network held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in San Diego. After two years of COVID disruption, the meeting was an opportunity for members of the DivSeek community to meet face-to-face.

During the meeting, Executive Director Graham King presented on the progress made over the past year – such as hosting workshops at international conferences, and signing an MOU with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).

This was followed by an open discussion on key issues, including implementation of the DivSeek Strategic Plan 2021-2026, and approaches for identifying future funding opportunities.

A highlight of the meeting was a series of ‘flash talk’ presentations in which DivSeek members and hubs gave updates on their recent activities, including outreach events, training sessions, online workshops and  software developments.

DivSeek hosted its inaugural workshop at the Plant & Animal Genome Conference (PAG 30) the following day. With over 60 attendees, the workshop featured a broad and engaging set of presentations on the topic of information flow from gene banks to downstream characterization of genetic resources, alongside development of communities of practice  and training the next generation of plant breeders for food and nutrition security in Africa.  The gathering then enjoyed a convivial and productive networking event, exchanging views on opportunities and challenges for the future.

“Over the past few years, numerous conceptual and operational advances have occurred with the management of crop datasets – both genotypic and phenotypic,” says Stephen Kresovich, Professor of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and Chair of the Divseek Board of Directors. “The AGM and [PAG 30] workshop provided the fora for thought leaders to update the community on this progress.”

Each of the six presentations spoke to the theme of optimising information flows for plant genetic resources (PGR). For example, Matija Obreza (Crop Trust) presented on GeneSys PGR, a platform for sharing information on genebank accessions, while Monica Carvajal-Yepes spoke about forming a community-of-practice to enable knowledge transfer among genebank managers.

The presentation slides from the AGM and PAG 30 workshops cover a broad range of topics and can now be downloaded from our website.

“As a plant breeder relying on PGR, the talks, both at the DivSeek AGM and workshop were informative and brought an awareness of different platforms and tools that are available for sharing and exploiting PGR,” says DivSeek Board member Julia Sibiya, .

Beyond these presentations, many attendees particularly valued the opportunity to interact and enjoy the food and drink DivSeek provided. “Networking with scientists from different continents under a common theme of plant genetic resources was a bonus,” says Sibiya, who is based in South Africa.

“The networking session allowed all participants to have added time to discuss a breadth of visions and details regarding information management to bridge crop conservation and use,” says Kresovich.

Written by Kiri Marker