Empowering with genomics: DivSeek Hubs deliver workshop series for Latin American germplasm bank community

January 5, 2023

Attendees at the third workshop of the Community of Practice for Latin America and the Caribbean inside the CIMMYT headquarters, Mexico. (Source: CIMMYT)

Corresponding authors: Carolina Sansaloni, César Petroli, and Sarah Hearne, CIMMYT.

Two of DivSeek International Network’s Hubs recently joined forces to deliver a workshop series on the use of genomics and digital tools for the conservation and use of genetic resources for food and agriculture. The workshop series is a joint effort between our Regional Hub for Latin America and our ‘Genomics to Democratize and Empower’ Hub.

The third and most recent workshop was held from November 14 to 18 at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) headquarters in Mexico. It highlighted topics such as the analysis of genotypic data derived from the DArTseq platform and the analysis of gaps in germplasm collections.

It was attended by 33 participants from 14 countries and was regarded by many as a useful capacity-building as well as networking exercise. During the workshop, attendees shared the following comments (reproduced here with permission from CIMMYT):

This workshop has allowed me to get in contact with colleagues from Latin America and to open the possibility of working together to advance in the characterization and contribute to the conservation of the collections we manage.

– Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Argentina

This has been a very profitable week for me as curator of the germplasm bank in Brazil. I learnt new concepts and tools that will generate advances in my work.

– Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)

“It was very gratifying to be able to form this Latin American network of germplasm banks together with our colleagues from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT,” said Carolina Sansaloni, co-lead of the DivSeek ‘Genomics to Democratize and Empower’ Hub.

“Training and knowledge exchange among germplasm banks is essential for better conservation, exploration and utilization of genetic resources in each country.”

The DivSeek Regional Hub for Latin America and the ‘Genomics to Democratize and Empower’ Hub have been working together since their inception.

Both are based in Latin America, and share a common goal to foster a regional community of practice to share knowledge and build capacity for using genomic and digital tools to enhance the conservation of plant genetic resources.

The Regional Hub, headed my Monica Carajaval and Peter Wenzl, began its mission by conducting a scoping survey on the breadth of agricultural germplasm collections, as well as the knowledge gaps and challenges faced by those who curate them.

This survey helped to inform the foci of the workshops, which were organised and coordinated primarily by the co-leads of the ‘Genomics to Democratize and Empower’ Hub: Carolina Sansaloni, César Petroli and Sarah Hearne.

The workshop was made possible through the support of DivSeek International, CGIAR’s Genebank Initiative, and Analitek-Illumina.

The series is an excellent example of what is possible when groups of researchers form new collaborations based on shared goals, and leverage their combined skills, networks and partnerships to identify and address gaps in the scientific community.