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Maintenance and scientific curation of the National Fruit Collection - GC0143

This proposal brings together a critical mass of academics and multi-disciplinary practitioners who are uniquely placed to deliver the maintenance and curation of the National Fruit Collectionsat its current site at Brogdale: The University of Reading and the Farm Advisory Services Team (FAST).
This project will conserve efficiently and effectively the genetic resources of the National Fruit Collections to meet the UK's international obligations, to facilitate accessibility to plant genetic resources for horticulture by the characterisation and documentation of information in user-friendly databases and to identify research needs based on material in the collections. The project will apply DEFRA’s policies on the ex-situ conservation of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, to develop national strategies for the ex-situ conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, specifically to the curation of the UK National Fruit Collections.
Project objectives:
1) Maintenance and housing- To provide for the long term security of the National Fruit Collections, and conserve the genetic diversity they contain whilst maintaining them to a good commercial standard of husbandry. To provide for the needs of the main collection users e.g. scientists, breeders and nurserymen.
2) Characterisation and verification- To complete the programme of morphological characterisation of the apple collection. To utilise molecular markers to assess genomic diversity of the entire apple collection across known quality traits with statistical association of observed traits from archive and new observations. Verification of the accurate re-propagation of the national pear collection by application of existing protocols employing molecular markers.
3) Records and archives-To provide a simple yet robust information management system that combines comprehensive and accurate information on the origins, availability and characteristics of individual accessions. To promote utilisation of the collection for all the potential user groups, both nationally and internationally through access to comprehensive archive and new information via a web portal featuring intuitive search facilities, and a germplasm management tool. To conserve and catalogue existing archives in a secure environment.
4) Long term security of the collections-To continue the development of cryopreservation as a means to provide additional security and an additional management tool for the collections.
5) International obligations and networking-To play an active role in national and international crop networks, such as the UK Plant Genetic Resources Group, the ECPGR and the ISHS Working Groups. Representation on fora as agreed with Defra.
In addition:
1) Partnership and links with industry-Independent of this proposal, FAST are moving their headquarters to the Brogdale site in the near future. This will not only strengthen the role of the National Fruit Collections in their present position but allow other synergies to develop. FAST intend to use their position in the industry as the largest advisory group in the top and soft fruit industry to develop strong industry links with the National Fruit collections in particular and the Brogdale site in general. FAST and the University of Reading intend to use the site to develop the concept of ‘Future Farming Solutions’ whereby innovative technology will be demonstrated to the fruit industry on the site.
2) Public access and awareness.- The University of Reading and FAST fully intend to develop the National Fruit Collections as a public attraction, with its own facilities for public access. It will develop a ‘learning centre’ for schools to increase school awareness of horticulture as a career. A fully interactive website will be developed for public access.
3) Science
The University of Reading will actively use the National Fruit Collections as a platform for new research initiatives in molecular crop breeding and climate change research, thus extending the research that will be conducted in the present, Defra funded work. We will submit applications to BBSRC under the Crop Science and Climate Change initiatives using the National Fruit Collections as the major resource for this research. We will exploit the National Fruit Collections in collaborative work with other European centres (with whom we collaborate already on other projects) using European Framework funding initiatives. The National Fruit Collections will therefore be central to the University’s future research strategy in horticulture.
4) Teaching and training. . It is our intention to develop the National Fruit collections as a central platform to teaching and training activities. This will be achieved by:
• Use of the National Fruit Collections as a central theme to our fruit crop teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. • Use of the collections as a resource for undergraduate and MSc project work.
• Publicise the National Fruit Collections as a key part of the University’s research in crop/molecular genetics, diversity and physiology to attract international research students.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : National Fruit Collection 2009 - 2014   (834k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2014

Cost: £2,075,196
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University - Reading
Genetic Conservation              
Science Policy              
Fields of Study
Plant Genetics