AGENT – Activated GEnebank NeTwork
Preserving Crop Diversity for Future Generations
While first gene banks to preserve the genetic diversity of crops for future generations were established as early as the mid-1920s, a total of about 7.4 million accessions are stored in more than 1,750 gene banks across the world today. However, as procedures and standards for managing the material differ in each country, the true potential of the stored resources for breeding and research often remains unknown.
The EU research project AGENT aims to unlock the full potential of the biological material stored in gene banks around the globe by introducing a new international standard and an open digital infrastructure for the management of plant genetic resources. Targeting a better integration of existing genetic material into modern breeding programmes, the project will make an important contribution to global food security and the adaption of staple food crops to changing climatic conditions worldwide. The project objectives will be exemplified using barley and wheat, but the generated data management processes could be applied to other crop collections in the future.
In order to provide access to this valuable information and enable the integration of existing plant genetic resources into modern breeding programmes, AGENT aims to establish a long-term network of actively cooperating gene banks and convert them from passive seed repositories into active digital resource centres – the activated gene bank network (‘AGENT’). Through the collection and analysis of genetic and phenotypic information, coupled with the establishment of an IT infrastructure for linking them, the consortium seeks to establish a new international standard for gene bank management and the verification and systematic genotyping of plant genetic resources.