Oceania has biodiverse and unique flora, which are now becoming increasingly valuable crop and forest assets worldwide (for example, Eucalyptus). For globally resilient crops, be it agriculture or forestry, we need to capture and quantify the genetic diversity of native crop species here in Australasia to guide sustainable resource management. This process is already starting with the characterisation of the Australian flora at a genomic level, for example the Genomics for Australian Plants (GAP) initiative and characterisation of genetic diversity in the Threatened Species Initiative.
The DivSeek International Regional Hub for Oceania aims to bring together researchers across Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands to develop tools, data infrastructure and best practices for characterising minor, new and emerging crops. Our hub provides a special focus for novel or recently domesticated crops from indigenous flora and locally adapted germplasm, as well as medicinal and therapeutic plants. We aim to provide new insights into the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol including best practices for incorporating indigenous knowledges into plant genetics research.
Co-leads: Andy Lowe, U. Adelaide; Kioumars Ghamkar, AgResearch, New Zealand.
Advisory committee members: Robert Henry and Brad Sherman, University of Queensland; Jacqui Batley and Dave Edwards, University of Western Australia; Darren Crayn, James Cook University; David Bush, CSIRO.
Project Coordinator: Melita Low, University of Adelaide
2022 Update on Activities:
- Co-Lead Andy Lowe presented at the DivSeek International Network 2022 AGM in January, providing an overview of our recent activities. You can view a video of the presentation here (from 46:40), along with the slides (.pdf).
- Our network now extends to almost 50 members and supporters, across 23 institutions, spanning a range of world-leading expertise – from crop and biodiversity genomics to germplasm curation, to innovative approaches that address recognition of indigenous traditional ownership.
- One of our key goals for this year is to continue to expand our network. So, if you wish to join us, please contact our Project Coordinator on the email address given above.
- We have a number of major activities in the works for 2022, kicking off with our comprehensive survey of genetic resource collections.
- Our hub has secured funding from BioPlatforms Australia, part of the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).
- Through this funding, a research team from the University of Adelaide (Co-Lead Andy Lowe and Project Coordinator Colette Blyth) and BioPlatforms Australia (Sarah Richmond) are developing a questionnaire which will collate information about genetic resources and data collections, to understand coverage of both biodiversity and agriculture collections across Australia and New Zealand.
- This information will be used to develop a national database describing the genetic resources available across participating collections. We anticipate this will be a valued source of information for the scientific community.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is conducting an update of the State of the Worlds Forest Genetic Resources and are currently seeking members to contribute to the project. Hub Co-lead Andy Lowe and Project Officer Colette Blyth are involved in this project and would like to invite members who are keen to contribute to get in contact with Colette.
Previously: 2021 update on Activities:
- Initial meetings refined scope to build a stronger base for the Australasian Hub, and to have two primary areas of focus:
- Crop diversity and associated issues such as Nagoya Protocol
- Native flora
- Scope to extend hub to wider genetic resources community
- Provide authoritative scientific framework for developing an appropriate legal framework for access and use of PGR
- Develop a ‘code of practice’
- Develop further and lobby federal Government
- Agreed to develop an inventory of Australasian and NZ biodiversity/bioresource collections -map genetic resource assets across Australasia
- Develop knowledge base of Australasian native food crops with Periodic Table of Food Initiative