ENHANCED GENEPOOL UTILIZATION ‒ Capturing wild relative and landrace diversity for crop improvement

16–20 June 2014

NIAB Innovation Farm, Cambridge, UK

The PGR Secure consortium and the European Association for Research on Plant Breeding (EUCARPIA) convened a joint international conference on utilization and conservation of crop wild relative (CWR) and landrace (LR) diversity for crop improvement. The conference showcased novel characterization techniques and conservation strategies to identify and preserve CWR and LR traits to increase options for crop improvement as a means of underpinning food security in the face of climate change. It brought together the international community to debate the current status and future enhanced utilization of CWR and LR diversity for improving agricultural production, increasing food security and sustaining the environment. The conference was a landmark in PGR science, highlighting exotic plant germplasm as a potentially critical but neglected resource for crop improvement.

Conference themes

  • Characterization techniques: ‘omics’ techniques and predictive tools to identify traits and expedite plant breeding
  • Conservation strategies: national, regional and global CWR and LR conservation strategy development; targeted conservation to meet the needs of the plant breeding community; integration of CWR and LR diversity into existing biodiversity conservation programmes
  • Facilitating CWR and LR use: pre-breeding; meeting breeders’ needs; integrating the conservation and user communities; policy enhancement
  • Informatics development: characterization, trait and conservation data management and accessibility; inter-information system operability

The conference also disseminated PGR Secure products to the European and global PGR community, and promoted their wider application and continued use.

Target audience

Delegates and speakers came from both the European and non-European PGR community – a truly international conference. Delegates and speakers included plant breeding researchers and plant breeders (both from the public and private sectors), conservation researchers, gene bank and protected area managers, policy-makers and information managers.

Location, host and venue

The conference was held in Cambridge (UK), a university town about 80km northeast of London. Today, Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen—its economic strengths lie in its university-associated industries such as software and bioscience.

The conference host was NIAB (National Institute of Agricultural Botany) Innovation Farm (www.innovationfarm.co.uk) on the outskirts of Cambridge. NIAB Innovation Farm’s mandate is to showcase plant genetic innovation and provide a link between science and business by providing a forum for debate and exchange of ideas, specifically by helping agriculture and food production face the enormous challenges in the years ahead.

The main conference venue was Churchill College.

Conference proceedings

A book of abstracts was provided to conference delegates on a flash drive and is available from a link on the right of this page. Delegates will also receive a peer-reviewed book containing key scientific papers associated with the Conference that will be published by CABI following the Conference.

Organizing committee

  • Bioversity International: Dr. Ehsan Dulloo, Ms. Sónia Dias, Ms. Sara Hutchinson
  • University of Birmingham: Dr. Nigel Maxted, Ms. Shelagh Kell
  • NIAB Innovation Farm: Dr. Lydia Smith, Dr. Jennifer Preston
  • EUCARPIA: Dr. Eva Thörn

Scientific programme committee

The scientific programme committee was co-chaired by the leader of the project dissemination activities (Bioversity International) and PGR Secure Coordinator (University of Birmingham). Other members of the committee were the Chair of the EUCARPIA Genetic Resources section, leaders of the PGR Secure scientific work packages, members of the project's External Advisory Board, the Head of NIAB Innovation Farm and other invited international experts.

  • Dr. Ehsan Dulloo, Bioversity International, Italy (Co-chair)
  • Dr. Nigel Maxted, University of Birmingham, UK (Co-chair)
  • Dr. Ahmed Amri, International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Tunisia
  • Prof. Brian Ford-Lloyd, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Dr. Danny Hunter, Charles Sturt University, NSW, Australia
  • Ms. Shelagh Kell, University of Birmingham, UK
  • Dr. Chris Kik, Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO), The Netherlands
  • Dr. Jan Leendert Harrewijn, Nickerson-Zwaan, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Chikelu Mba, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Italy
  • Prof. Valeria Negri, Universita Degli Studi Di Perugia (UNIPG), Italy
  • Dr. Lydia Smith, NIAB Innovation Farm, UK
  • Dr. Eva Thörn, EUCARPIA and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
  • Dr. Anke van den Hurk, Plantum NL, The Netherlands
  • Dr. Ben Vosman, Stichting Dienst Landbouwkundig Onderzoek (DLO), The Netherlands
  • Dr. John Wiersema, USDA Agricultural Research Service, USA

For the full list of PGR Secure partners and collaborators, click here.