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Plant genomics in view of plant genetic resources – an introduction

  • Ronald L. Phillips (a1)


Genetic resources form the basis of the new era of global food security. The food crises in many developing countries, reflected by food riots correlated with food prices, have been termed the Silent Tsunami. Plant genetic resources are clearly essential to food security for the future. Fortunately, genetic resources are generally considered a public good and shared internationally. Wild relatives of crop species and their derivatives represent the reservoir of genetic diversity that will help to meet the food demands of nine billion people by 2050. New technologies from genomics bolster conventional plant breeding for enhancing traits to meet these food demands. Genetic diversity is the lifeblood of traditional and modern plant breeding. The dramatic increase in the number of biotech crops reveals the value of new genetic resources. Genetic resources will provide a gateway to a new era of global food security. Although 7.4 million plant accessions are stored in 1750 germplasm banks around the world, only a small portion of the accessions has been used so far to produce commercial varieties. Our challenge is to find better ways to make more efficient use of gene bank materials for meeting food demands in the future.


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