Four tons of seeds - almost 90,000 samples of hundreds of crop species - from food crop collections maintained by Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, USA, and three international agricultural research centers in Syria, Mexico and Colombia, were delivered today to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault as it celebrated its one-year anniversary. The repository, located near the village of Longyearbyen on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, has in one year amassed a collection of more than 400,000 unique seed samples – some 200 million seeds.
"We are especially proud to see such a large number of countries work quickly to provide samples from their collections for safekeeping in the vault," said Norwegian Agriculture Minister Lars Peder Brekk. "It shows that there are situations in the world today capable of transcending politics and inspiring a strong unity of purpose among a diverse community of nations."
"The vault was opened last year to ensure that one day all of humanity's existing food crop varieties would be safely protected from any threat to agricultural production, natural or man made. It's amazing how far we have come toward accomplishing that goal," said Cary Fowler, Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which operates the seed vault in partnership with the Norwegian government and the Nordic Genetic Resource Center in Sweden.
For example, in its first year of operation, the vault at Svalbard has so far received duplicates of nearly half of the crop samples maintained by the genebanks of the international agricultural research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
These international genebanks are seen as the custodians of the crown jewels of crop diversity. This diversity has been instrumental in the breeding of new varieties responsible for the remarkable productivity gains made in global agriculture in recent decades, and in averting food crises when farm production has been threatened by natural disasters, plant diseases, and plant pests.
To mark the anniversary of the vault, experts on global warming and its effects on food production have gathered in Longyearbyen to discuss how climate change could pose a major threat to food production, and to examine crop diversity's role in averting crisis. They include the authors of a study published last month in Science magazine warning that by the end of this century the average temperatures during growing seasons in many regions will probably be higher than the most extreme heat recorded over the last 100 years. Crop diversity will be required by scientists to breed new varieties able to flourish in such dramatically different conditions.
"This means that the vital importance of crop diversity to our food supply, which inspired the creation of the seed vault, is neither remote nor theoretical but immediate and real," said David Battisti, a climate change expert at the University of Washington and one of the lead authors of the paper.
"When we see research indicating that global warming could diminish maize production by 30 percent in southern Africa in only 20 years' time, it shows that crop diversity is needed to adapt agriculture to climate change right now," added Frank Loy, former Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs and an advisor to President Obama's transition team on environment and climate change, who is also attending.
With its new acquisitions, the vault is now providing a secure second home for a third of humanity's most important crop varieties, and a level of security for crop diversity conservation that was not available until a year ago. More genebanks and countries are in the process of signing agreements and preparing seeds collections to deposit in the vault.
Seeds arriving for the vault anniversary include samples of 32 varieties of potatoes in addition to oat, wheat, barley, and native grass species from two of Ireland's national gene banks. Ireland's participation and its inclusion of potato varieties is particularly appropriate for an occasion celebrating crop diversity. It was a lack of diversity that is believed to have made Ireland's potato crop particularly vulnerable to the devastating blight of the mid-1800s that lead to the deaths of more than one million people.
In addition to Ireland's contribution, 3,800 samples of wheat and barley have come from Switzerland's national seed bank in Changins. The United States is sending 20,000 samples from the seed repository maintained by the federal Department of Agriculture that represents 361 crop species. They include samples of crop varieties that originally came from 151 countries and are now part of the U.S. collection.
Like all seeds coming to the vault, the samples arriving today are duplicates of seeds from other collections. The vault is intended to serve as a fail-safe backup should the original samples be lost or damaged or, more dramatically, to provide something of a Noah's ark for agriculture in the event of a global catastrophe.
Megan Dold | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Climate change > Conservation > Svalbard Arctic fox > agricultural disaster > agricultural research centers > agriculture > crop > crop diversity > crop diversity conservation > crop species > food crop > food crop varieties > food production > genebanks > global warming > native grass species > natural disaster > potato varieties
Kakao in Monokultur verträgt Trockenheit besser als Kakao in Mischsystemen
18.09.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Ultrasound sensors make forage harvesters more reliable
28.08.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Zerstörungsfreie Prüfverfahren IZFP
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy