Connect with us


“European collaboration on Plant Genetic Resources is missing opportunities”

A recent paper in the scientific journal ‘Plants’ analyses the current collaboration between genebanks in Europe. The paper was jointly written by the head of the CGN plant genebank, the secretary of the European Cooperative Program for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR), and the former coordinator of the virtual European genebank initiative (AEGIS). This self-reflection resulted in a detailed paper with clear conclusions.

Collaboration in Europe
The European Cooperative Program for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR), an umbrella organization of European countries in the field of Plant Genetic Resources, has developed many valuable joint activities amongst European genebanks in the past four decades. However, this has not resulted in a substantially increased collaboration.

To improve this situation, AEGIS (short for: ‘A European Genebank Integrated System’) was established in 2004. AEGIS is an ECPGR initiative aiming to efficiently conserve and provide access to unique germplasm in Europe. It is a virtual genebank that administers ‘the European Collection’, consisting of accessions that are managed by AEGIS’ members (genebanks), who organize and cover the costs of the long term conservation and distribution of these accessions. Material in AEGIS is supposed to be managed in accordance with agreed quality standards and should be freely available in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

In order to analyze and evaluate the collaboration, Theo van Hintum, the head of the CGN plant genebank, Lorenzo Maggioni, the secretary of the European Cooperative Program for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR), and Johannes Engels, the former coordinator of AEGIS, wrote the recently published article ‘AEGIS, the virtual European genebank: why it is such a good idea, why it is not working and how it could be improved’. The paper describes the history of the conservation of plant genetic resources (PGR) in Europe and why collaboration between genebanks has not improved significantly since the establishment of ECPGR. The authors observe that (1) often plant genetic resources are duplicated in many collections, while other important material is missing, (2) access to the materials, if there is access at all, is often restricted to a small group of people such as colleagues in the institute, partners of a project, or members of a restricted network, and most importantly, (3) the quality of the conservation methodologies and of the conserved material is unclear and possibly often very low.

Why AEGIS does not work
The authors observe that AEGIS, so far, is not successful. Too little material has been included in this virtual genebank: 65,267 accessions, which is only 3.2% of the material registered in EURISCO, the European database for genebank material. This is mainly because there are no proper incentives for including material in AEGIS and genebanks appear reluctant to commit themselves to the required quality standards without such incentives. Also, the quality of and access to the included material is not assured, as there is no mechanism that verifies compliance to the quality standards.

How it could be improved
Genebanks cannot and will not rely on each other if they cannot be sure about the quality and continuity of the collections managed by their colleague genebanks. Therefore, the need is stressed for introducing a quality system in which genebanks could become AEGIS-certified. The result of such a system would be that AEGIS-certified genebanks qualify themselves for support at national and regional levels, as they should be reliable contributors to conserving genetic resources. Institutions that want to become AEGIS-certified genebanks, but do not meet the requirements yet, should be supported by ECPGR and other donors to reach this goal by capacity building, staff exchanges, support for setting up the required facilities, etc.

Continuity of the collections could be realized by creating an ‘open backup system’. Safety backup is a standard activity for all well-functioning genebanks; they send samples of their material to a colleague genebank and to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. However, currently that is done in black-box constructions in which only the donor of the material has access to it. The authors propose a slight alteration to this procedure, by agreeing that the accessions in the back-up genebank can be used for inclusion in another AEGIS-genebank collection in the undesirable event that the original holding genebank can no longer provide access to these accessions.

The authors conclude that the European genebank community clearly has the desire to professionalize and collaborate. By creating the proper incentives and establishing the proper infrastructure supported by funding agencies and policymakers, the authors believe that an effective system of collaborating genebanks can be created in Europe.

logowurFor more information:
Wageningen University & Research 

Continue Reading


Israel announces creation of global seed company

Two Israeli seed producers, Nirit Seeds and TomaTech, have joined forces to create Israel’s largest vegetable seed company. This synergy will enable unique seed breeding research and development that will accelerate the company’s growth in the international seed markets.

Upon completion of the merger, the company will have more than 80 employees worldwide, including molecular biologists, breeders, agronomists, and others.
The company will improve its breeding activities in Israel, Spain, Mexico and Italy, as well as significantly expand its representation in the Netherlands and North America, with a particular focus on growing vegetables in high-tech greenhouses.

Nirit Seeds is one of the most successful internationally traded tomato and pepper seed producers, investing in the development of revolutionary genetic technologies. TomaTech is one of the leading tomato seed companies in Israel, developing premium varieties, including those resistant to the dangerous Tomato Brown Ruffle Virus (ToBRFV).

The production of crop seeds is one of the most advanced and high-tech sectors in Israel. According to the Seed Department of the Federation of Israel Chambers of Commerce, seed exports currently generate $200 million in annual revenue. There are about 25 large and medium-sized companies in the local industry.

For reference. According to market research, the global vegetable seed industry is valued at $8 billion a year and is growing at a CAGR of 8%.

Prepared according to

Continue Reading


Karachay-Cherkessia became one of the leaders in the production of greenhouse vegetables at the end of 2021


Greenhouse vegetable production in 2021 reached a record 1.4 million tonnes. According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, the leaders among the regions in this segment are the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Lipetsk, Moscow, Kaluga, Volgograd, Novosibirsk, Saratov, Chelyabinsk regions, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, the Republics of Bashkortostan and Tatarstan. These regions account for more than 60% of the total production in the country. The intensive development of greenhouse projects in our country helps to provide Russians with fresh vegetables all year round. Last year, the harvest in winter greenhouses updated the 2020 record – more than 1.4 million tons of products were received. Including the production of cucumbers amounted to at least 830 thousand tons, and tomatoes – 590 thousand tons. It is expected that by 2025 the volume of vegetable production in year-round greenhouses will be at least 1.6 million tons of vegetables.


Continue Reading


December: Special Year Overview

In 2022, it will be 22 year since the new millennium started. Can’t believe it? Neither can we, but it is true. Before we go there, it is time to reflect on what has happened this year. Over the next couple of weeks, we will look back at 2021 and we will highlight the most important events that impacted the industry.

New greenhouses, events, even a few shows, technical novelties, and all other relevant news will pass by, offering you something other than Covid to talk about during Christmas and New Years’.


Wish your customers Happy Holidays
This special also offers an opportunity to put your company in the spotlight with a banner in this special box. This banner can be booked until December 24 on our newsletters. For more information, feel free to send an email to: 

Continue Reading