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Curation of the National Fruit Collections - GC0138NTF

DEFRA's programme (GC01) on the Ex-situ conservation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture aims to contribute to the achievement of the UK's international commitments to develop national strategies for the ex-situ conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. In detail, they are to conserve efficiently and effectively genetic resources of agricultural and horticultural crops, where commercial activity is inadequate to safeguard diversity for future needs; to meet the UK's international obligations, to facilitate accessibility to plant genetic resources for agriculture by the characterisation and documentation of information in user-friendly databases; and to identify research needs based on material in UK collections. Applying these policies specifically to curation of the UK National Fruit Collections results in the following objectives;

(a) Genetic diversity within the National Fruit Collections will be conserved to a standard commensurate with the needs of the main users, i.e. scientists, breeders and nurserymen.
(b) A programme of characterisation, data capture from the archives and data analysis will be
undertaken in order to improve documentation of and to assess diversity present within the National Apple Collection both for the purposes of managing the collection and to aid collection users. Preliminary work on using molecular markers to assess genetic diversity and improve management of the collection will be initiated in this project.
(c) The National Fruit Collections will continue to play an active role in national and international crop
networks, such as the UK Plant Genetic Resources Group and the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute European Cooperative Programme
1. Records and Archives
Existing archives, records and works of reference will be maintained securely. Records of acquisition, location of material in the field and verification status details have been digitized under a previous contract. The database created from this digitized information will be updated as required. In addition, a large amount of descriptive data relating to the apple collection has been digitized, e.g. yield scores. This information will be collated with fruit descriptions and historical information into a monograph describing apple varieties conserved in the National Fruit Collections. Information relating to the apple accessions will be made available to users via the internet. A publication detailing the NFC cherry varieties will be prepared.

2. Characterisation and Verification
Morphological characterisation of the apple collection will be continued with the objective of having characterisation data readily available for 95% of apple accessions. In addition, 95% of apple varieties that have associated published descriptions will have been verified by the end of this period (currently references have been located for 1638 accessions). Any remaining queries over verification of apple accessions will be examined to aid preparation of the monograph.

Verification of the newly planted cherry collection is almost completed; however previous work has identified some possible duplicates that cannot be resolved using morphological methods alone. Microsatellite markers have already been used to confirm the presence of suspected duplicates in the cherry collection, and these markers will be used again to resolve remaining queries. Verification of the new bush fruit collections will continue; at least 55 accessions will be verified during the project. Data collected during these activities will be added to the existing archives. A newly propagated pear collection will be planted out by the end of the project. The pear collection has not yet been verified, therefore a protocol for pear verification and characterisation will be devised and tested ready for use.

3. Collection security
The existing field collection of apples will need to be repropagated in the near future. Preliminary tests will be carried out on cryopreservation of selected accessions within the collection. If cryopreservation is used in the future, then only a subset of the entire apple collection will be maintained in the field as an active collection. Therefore a protocol for selecting a representative subset of the apple collection must be devised. Decisions will be based on data obtained through characterisation programmes, including molecular characterisation. A trial of the suitability of microsatellite markers for measuring diversity in the apple collection will be carried out on a set of approximately 75 accessions.

4. Husbandry and Germplasm Supply (with Brogdale Horticultural Trust
Brogdale Horticultural Trust is responsible for husbandry of the National Fruit Collections and germplasm supply, under the scientific direction of Imperial College. The collections will be maintained to a standard of husbandry equivalent to that found in good commercial practice by the Trust, in accordance with the specific requirements of their use as a germplasm resource. A programme of cultivations, pruning, pesticide applications, repropagation, replacement and verification will be carried out in accordance with an agreed schedule as given in the Brogdale Horticultural Trust CSG7. Imperial College is responsible for liaison with scientific users of the Collection germplasm, Brogdale Horticultural Trust is responsible for liasing with other users.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Curation of the National Fruit Collections   (227k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2008

Cost: £202,876
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Imperial College, Wye Campus
Natural Resource Use              
Plant Genetic Resources              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study
Plant Genetics