Concerted international activities to collect and preserve crop genetic resources were initiated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Technical conferences organized by FAO in 1961, 1967 and 1973 stimulated the global awareness with regard to conservation of genetic resources. In 1971, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was formed with cosponsorship from FAO, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank. The 1973 FAO Technical Conference and a United Nations Environment Conference in Stockholm in 1972, led to recommendations for a global program. The International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) was subsequently established in 1974 by the CGIAR as one of 13 International Agricultural Research Centres (IARC). As a secretariat organization, IBPGR was charged with salvaging threatened germplasm and ensuring that it was described, documented and conserved (Williams 1989).
Before IBPGR was created, genetic resources programs were based in the developed world or in other centres of the CGIAR (Table 1). Many of the existing programs were the result of plant introduction programs or were centered around historic collections. In 1974, fewer than five conservation facilities worldwide were available for good storage of seed. Also, collections of vegetatively propagated crops were small, did not represent existing variation in local varieties and had suffered severe generic losses due to handling (Franker 1975). The documentation of both seed and vegetative collections was inadequate or non-existent. There was a significant lack of information on the ranges and patterns of variation in field populations of old cultivars, landraces, weedy and wild relatives, and the degree of threat to these populations (Williams 1984).
IBPGR plays a catalytic role in establishment of research programs and projects by providing initial funding and scientific expertise. It has a responsibility to assist in establishing new genetic resources programs and to integrate these with current ones as quickly as possible. Very early, a strategy was developed that included the collection, conservation, characterization, and documentation of generic resources. This ran concurrently with the initiation or strengthening of national genetic resources programs and training in and for developing countries. The IBPGR has worked with and collaborated with almost all countries of the world regardless of political affiliation.
The activities of the IBPGR touch all areas of plant genetic resources work. The field program is served by both headquarters and field staff and includes acquisition, conservation and documentation of genetic resources. IBPGR has sponsored over 400 collecting projects in all parts of the world (115 countries) that have resulted in over 166,000 samples deposited in genebanks. Because IBPGR does not maintain any, germplasm, it enters into agreements with national and international genebanks to conserve collected germplasm This has resulted in a network of over 30 base (seed) collections. Assistance has been provided whereby, 15 long-term storage facilities and numerous short-term facilities have been established, many in developing countries. Support has also been directed toward establishment of field genebanks in some areas. Standards for conservation of seed have been developed and accepted throughout the international community. Characterization and preliminary evaluation of genetic resources is also an active area. Descriptor lists have been or are currently being developed for over 60 crops or crop groups. Support has also been provided for characterization and multiplication of some collections. Documentation and information management activities have included providing and developing directories of institutes holding various material, technical assistance to centres in developing countries with major collections and development of standards for the establishment of crop databases. Funding for the establishment and compilation of crop databases has been provided for a number of the major crops. Training has been partly or completely funded by IBPGR for personnel in technical, manage ment and supervisory areas. A variety of short technical courses have provided training to over 600 trainees from developing countries with over 100 receiving extended postgraduate training financed by IBPGR.
The research program of IBPGR is a relatively new area within IBPGR. There are three areas of potential emphasis. Research in conservation technology is still needed, for seeds and vegetatively propagated crops through in vitro techniques. A major project involves (with the Centro Intemacional de Agricultura Tropical (ICAT) investigating the logistics of conservation of in vitro material and the genetic changes that occur in cassava during in vitro storage. Pathological aspects of germplasm conservation and exchange is another major area. A conceptual framework has been developed for an enclosed quarantine system, a component of which is disease indexing. Genetic diversity research is needed because of the constraints in implementing the collecting of diversity from wider gene pools. Current research is based on species complexes in primary, secondary, and tertiary gene pools depending on the sophistication of breeding specific crops.
Throughout the implementation of the above activities, IBPGR has developed a large consortium of collaborators throughout the world. It has developed into a repository of information based on current and past contact with hundreds of institutes and individuals worldwide. Field staff are also located in areas where national programs need to be stimulated and assisted and genetic resources work needs to be pushed.
For the purpose of this paper, a new crop is a single species or a group of related species that is not grown and commercially exploited in the U.S. This definition allows inclusion of crops that may be produced outside, but are currently marketed within North America. New crops can be classified into (1) wild and weedy plants that are potential domesticates and (2) crops that are utilized in other places but would be new to the U.S.
Forages. There is an undisputed need to conserve genetic resources of forages because of the increasing amount of land being converted from forest to pasture, and the importance of animal products as a source of dietary protein. The large number of genera and species within this group creates a challenging task for genetic resources conservation. A broad ranging forage conservation program has been followed by IBPGR. in this program, particular emphasis was given to collection and conservation of material from arid, semi-arid, tropical and subtropical zones. To facilitate this work, IBPGR has enhanced cooperation with international centers, including the International Livestock Center for Africa (ILCA), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the Centro International de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) as well as national PTO grams in Australia and Brazil (Plucknett et al. 1987). Work with the temperate grasses and forages has been facilitated through ties with the European Cooperative Programme for Conservation and Exchange of Crop Genetic Resources. The collection and conservation programs have been augmented with education program,including post-graduate training and publications in forage genetic resources. Ecological and geographic surveys of several species have been sponsored and or conducted by IBPGR. These surveys utilize field data to maximize the sampling of genetic diversity in areas of high diversity. They also assist in the the selection of samples for more efficient utilization of germplasm in forages and the wild relatives of other crops (IBPGR 1985). To increase the conservation possibilities of Cynodon and Digitaria species, the development of tissu culture techniques that will aid in their collection has been supported by IBPGR in cooperation with ILCA.
Fruits. IBPGR's work with temperate fruit genetic resources has principally involved Prunus and Vitis (van Sloten and Holle 1988). Several temperate fruit and nut species have been collected and conserved in areas of extreme genetic erosion but collection of additional material was limited until a survey of the status of temperate fruit germplasm was completed by the National Clonal Repository in Corvallis, Oregon. Research projects involving seed and in vitro storage of these genera have been supported by the IBPGR with the intent of determining effective, alternate techniques for conservation relative to the current clonal methodology (van Sloten and Holle 1988).
Subtropical and tropical fruits are an important asset to the countries in which they are produced, both nutritionally and economically. The IBPGR has provided support for the collection, conservation, ecogeographic and systematic surveys of fruits that are regionally and locally important. Current efforts emphasize mango, citrus, banana and related wild species, especially those in Southeast Asia. The biological aspects of the conservation and propagation for banana and citrus lead to the support of research to develop in vitro tissue culture techniques for conservation and collection.
IBPGR has been involved in the collection and conservation of many different tropical and subtropical fruits that are underutilized or unexploited in the U.S.:
Passiflora edulis (passionfruit) has become increasingly popular as an ingredient in fruit drinks, but at least 40 other species of Passiflara have edible fruits (IBPGR 1986), between ten to thirteen of these are reportedly cultivated. Most of the cultivated species are naive to South America but both the cultivated and wild species are reported to naturalize easily even tending to weediness (IBPGR 1986). While many of these species grow throughout the tropics, most are consumed locally with only a few traded internationally. There is the potential to utilize fruits in products such as jams, jellies, ice creams and other desserts and one is important medicinally (P. incarnata).
Annona cherimola (cherimoya) is a backyard crop native to the nonhem Andes, the fruit of which has slightly acid but delicate banana-pineapple flavored flesh (IBPGR 1986). The crop is in increasing demand in the world market and is exported by a few countries including Spain and Chile. It has been used as a fresh fruit and in ice creams or deserts. There are some small collections of Annona germplasm. A relatively large colleclion of A. muricata is located in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico (IBPGR 1986).
Solanum muricatum (pepino), produces a seedless, watery and pleasantly favorable fruit on a very fast growing shrub. In its native South America, it is a traditional backyard crop. The fruit is also produced on a small scale in Hawaii, southern Califomia and the southeastem U.S. It is currently commercially produced in New Zealand and has potential for extended commercial cultivation as a specialty fruit in the U.S.
Cereals and Grain Legumes. Since its creation, the IBPGR has given emphasis to the major cereals because they are staples for much of the world's population. IBPGR has organized the collection of landrace and wild material, sponsored duplication and conservation, and provided funding for characterization work on maize, wheat, barley, rice, sorghum and millets. Ecogeographic surveys of the Triticeae tribe, wild Sorghum, Eleusine and teosinte have been supported in areas of high diversity.
Several species of the Pennisetum millets are very valuable human food in and portions of Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean (Plucknett et al. 1987). These species, probably of central African origin (Purseglove 1976), thrive in ecologically marginal lands, including those with poor soils and areas where drought is common. The IBPGR has been active in collecting substantial landrace material, most of which has been the common pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). The relatively high average protein content of the grain and the potential to use the plant as silage in somewhat unproductive lands creates interesting opportunities for developing Pennisetum species as new crops in the U.S.
Food or grain legumes are a major staple in Latin America, Southwest Asia, the Indian subcontinent, East Asia, and Africa. Legumes are among the best natural sources of vegetable proteins, calories, vitamins and minerals. Some are also high in oil. Many different legumes have received considerable attention with regard to germplasm acquisition and conservation within the IBPGR program. Phaseolus, Vigna, Arachis, Cicer, Lens, Pisum, Cajanus, Vicia and Glycine have been collected and conserved in many regions of the world. IBPGR works closely with many national programs and CIAT, ICARDA, ICRISAT, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center (AVRDC) in a concerted effort to collect, conserve and characterize legume germplasm.
Two genera of food legumes, Lupinus and Psophocarpus are not currently exploited in the U.S., but may have potential sources as interesting crops. The lupins have two centers of diversity, one in the Mediterranean and one in South America. Many lupins are very vigorous, rapidly growing on poor land, with easilv harvested seeds high protein and oil. They have been used as grain food, animal forage, for soil improvement and as ornamentals (Smith 1976). The Latin American species, Lupinus mutabilis, is the most important cultivated lupin in South America because of its wide use as food in the Andean region. It has been collected extensively and conserved throughout its region of diversity for many years with IBPGR support. The Mediterranean lupins (including L. albus and L. luteus) are not as important there as L. mutabilis is in the Andes. The IBPGR has been actively supporting national institutes, especially in Portugal and Spain, to collect these and related species, principally in the Iberian peninsula. The high alkaloid content in the lupin seed creates a barrier to their quick acceptance. It is possible, however, to change this through breeding, potentially releasing a vigorous plant with a high protein content.
The winged bean has been considered a potential new crop in the U.S. for many years (NAS 1975). Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, a native of tropical Asia, is a very important crop in Papua, New Guinea and South east Asia because of its edible leaves, seeds, pods and tuberous roots, all with a high protein content. The beans can also produce an edible oil. There are currently large holdings of this species, formed principally through IBPGR support of many different collecting missions. These germplasm collections can facilitate research on the adaptability of the species to northern latitude daylight and climatic conditions. The potential use of the winged bean as a high protein forage in conjunction with harvestable tuberous roots, or as an edible legume seed creates an alternative to some of the more traditional U.S. bean and root crops.
Pseudocereals. The IBPGR has been active since 1978 in assisting national and regional institutes in the collection and conservation of several Andean grain crops including quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), canihua (C. pallidicaule), and coimi (Amaranthus caudatus). The cultivation of these crops has been shrinking in their native regions since the introduction of the Old World cereals in the 1500s (Plucknett et al. 1987). Relatively large collections of these species are now established in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru.
Quinoa produces a grain on a broad leafed plant. It is rugged, heavily seeded (Simmonds 1976) and thrives in poor soils. The grain is rich in protein, contains a good amino acid balance, and possibly can be improved to be a better protein source than most of the common cereals. Quinoa has a light taste, may be used to thicken soups, or popped like popcorn (NAS 1975). A detriment to its use is that the outer lavers of the seedcoat of most types contain saponins (water soluble glucosides) that cause it to be bitter-tasting. This can be removed through breeding, washing, or milling. The grain can currently be purchased inside the U.S. and is grown successfully in Colorado and England. With several related cultivate species (C. pallidicaule, C. nuttaliae) and wild species there is a broad genetic base that can be used for improvement and adaptation of quinoa to non-native regions.
The amaranths have received significant world-wide attention because they are fast growing and produce high-protein grains in large seed heads. Vegetable amaranths are widely known for their protein-rich leaves that can be harvested many times a year (NAS 1975). The IBPGR has been active in the collection, conservation and characterization of the genetic resources of many species of amaranths. Amaranthus hypochondriacus, A. cruentu, and A. caudatus are native to Mexico, Central America and the Andes, and are important in these regions but also in Africa and India principally as a grain crop (Grubben and van Sloten 1981). The high lysine grain is usually parched and milled for dough for pancakes, cooked for gruel or made into drinks (NAS 1975). The vegetable amaranths (A. tricolor and A. dubius) produce a leaf characterized as succulent and spinach-like. They are extremely popular around their regions of diversity, including India, and tropical South or Southeast Asia. A tremendous amount of diversity exists in these species and the wild, related species are sometimes used and or cultivated. The Organic Gardening and Farming Research Center of Rodale Press, Kutztown, PA began research on grain amaranths in 1975 and has been given responsibility for the characterization and increase of material distributed throughout the IBPGR global network.
Vegetable Crops. Root and tuber germplasm is, in general, not well represented in germplasm collections, with the exception of the potato (Plucknett et al. 1987). For the potato, most of IBPGR's work has been directed to providing assistance to national centers to collect and conserve local cultivated and wild relative germplasm. The primary responsibility for this crop lies with the Centro International de la Papa (CIP). The IBPGR has worked closely with CIAT and national programs to collect and duplicate cultivated and wild cassava (Manihot sp.) germplasm. Extensive support has also been provided to CIAT to develop techniques for maintaining cassava germplasm in vitro and using cryopreservation techniques. In addition to the collection and conservation of Ipomoea spp. germplasm in South America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, IBPGR supported projects have included preliminary evaluation of morphological and cytological traits, in vitro conservation, and training in various aspects of sweet potato genetic resources. The collection of more regionally important roots and tubers have been accomplished through multi-crop or crop-specific missions. Representative genera include Colocasia, Dioscorea, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma.
There are several genera of root crops of Andean origin that have been collected and conserved througf, IBPGR support because of their importance in their native regions. Oxalis tuberosa and Ullucus tuberosus are of significant importance as starchy foods. The importance of U. tuberosus is often greater than that of Oxalis. Regional production is of such an extent that distribution to larger cities is possible. Oxalis and Ullucus ha ve potential in the U.S. as new crops because of their diversity in taste (ranging from sugary to acid) and tolerance of harsh growing conditions, including poor soils and high altitudes. Both of these crops, however, require additional research with regard to virus eradication (Stone 1982). Arracacia xanthorrhiza, is a herbaceous perennial that produces smooth skinned starchy roots and edible stems that resemble celery. The roots produce a starch that is easily digested and has a delicate flavor and crisp texture (NAS 1975), and is used to enhance stews and soups. Additional research on these three crops could reveal as yet unseen potential with regard to fillers and flavorings.
The IBPGR's work with the conservation of Latin American, African, and Asian vegetables began in 1980 and coincided with the push for conservation by national and regional programs. This concurrent effort resulted in a doubling of collection sizes in five years (Plucknett et al. 1987). The IBPGR has devoted the greatest effort to the collection of landraces and primitive cultivars of Lycopersicon, Capsicum, Allium, Abelmoschus, Brassica, Solanum (eggplant), and several Cucurbitaceae genera. The collection of wild species for manv of these crops as well as multiplication and characterization of several collections has been partly or completely sponsored by IBPGR. The regional importance of many of these vegetables, justified the funding for conservation facilities in many countries in Africa, Asia and South America.
There are several vegetables of importance on a more local basis that have been conserved with IBPGR support. Cucurbits like Sechium, Luffa, and Momordica are currently underexploited in the U.S. In the Central American (Sechium) and sub-Asian (Luffa and Momordica) areas of origin (Smith 1976), the fruits from several species are used as important additions to the more common vegetables. The large, one-seeded fruits of Sechium edule are eaten raw or boiled and the roots are used as a starchy food. Luffa cylindrica and L. acutangula fruits are cooked, but dried fruits from Luffa are used as sponges (Smith 1976). The fruits of Momordica charantia are also used as cooked vegetables, but can also be pickled and used in curries. All of these are potentially valuable in extending the variety of vegetables that are currently in demand in oriental and vegetable dishes. Two Brassicas, B. campestris subsp. chinensis (pak-choi or Chinese mustard) and B. campestris subsp. pekinensis (Chinese cabbage) originated in China and are of major importance in East and Southeast Asia (IBPGR 1981). The former produces shoots and the later heads of leaves. These species are now filling a void for domestic, low cost oriental vegetables. Both are reported to exist in hybrid varieties in Japan (McNaughton 1976). Domestic ptoduction can be enhanced through the utilization of the variation that exists in several important germplasm collections (IBPGR 1988).
Industrial Crops. Although the IBPGR works primarily with staple food crops, a number of industrial crops have also been incorporated when they are of importance in rural development. Most of the work to date has been with the genetic resources of the common crops such as beets, sugarcane, cacao, coconut, coffee, tea, cotton, rubber and oil palm. Principle emphasis with regard to collection was put on the well-known species of these crops, but some related and wild species were also collected. Other types of projects have also been supported including in vitro research on cacao.
Palms, representing several genera, have potential not only as sources of new U.S. crops, but also for enhancing the current germplasm base of the existing ornamental palms. Hearts of palm are found in the world market as exotic vegetables and salad additions (NAS 1975). Hearts of palm can be produced in plantations from species of Bactris, Euterpe, Sabal, and Cocos. Edible palm oils can be derived from species in several palm genera including Elaeis and Cocos. The IBPGR has sponsored collection and conservation of some of these genera.
The African species (Smith 1976), Hibiscus sabdarifa (roselle) and Hibiscus cannabinus (kenaf), are used for fiber in their native regions but may also have potential in the U.S. Forms of roselle produce edible fruits that can be made into jellies and drinks and also produce fiber. The wide use of synthetic fibers in the U.S. may limit the initial usefulness of these plants but their unknown potential warrants additional research.
|Center||Name and Location||Crops, Activities and Focus|
|IRRI||International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Philippines (1960)y||Rice; Global Collection, Research; Developing Countries|
|CIMMYT||Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo, El Batan, Mexico (1964)||Maize, wheat, triticale, barley; Global Collection, Research; Developing Countries, Latin America|
|IITA||lnternational Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Nigeria (1965)||Maize, rice, cowpea, sweet potato, yams, cassava; Global Collections, Research; Developing Countries, Sub-Saharan Africa|
|CIAT||Centro Internacional de Agriculture Tropical, Calli, Colombia (1968)||Cassava, beans, rice, pastures; Global Collection, Research; Latin America, Developing Countries|
|WARDA||West African Rice Development Association, Monrovia, Liberia (1971)||Rice; Research; West Africa|
|CIP||International Potato Center, Lima, Peru (1972)||Potato; Global Collection, Research; Latin America, Developing Countries|
|ICRISAT||International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Hyderabad, India (1972)||Chickpea, pigeonpea, pearl millet, sorghum, groundnut; Global Collection, Research, Developing Countries|
|ILRAD||International Laboratory for Research on Animal Diseases Nairobi, Kenya (1974)||Trypanosomiasis theileriosis; Animal Disease; Sub-Saharan Africa|
|IBPGR||International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, Italy (1974)||Plant Generic Resources; Global|
|ILCA||International Livestock Center for Attica, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1974)||Livestock Production Systems; Sub-Saharan Africa|
|IFPRI||International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, United States (1975)||Food policy; Developing Countries|
|ICARDA||International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Aleppo, Syria (1976)||Wheat, barley, triticale, faba bean, lentil, chickpea, forages; Global Collection, Research; Developing Countries, North Africa, Middle East|
|ISNAR||International Service for National Agricultural Research, The Hague, Netherlands (1980)||National Research Systems; Developing Countries.|
|Crop group||Species||Common namey||Scope of collection|
|Cereals||Hordeum spp.||Barley||Global, European, African, Asian Regional|
|Zea spp.||Maize||European, Asian, New World|
|Eragrostis spp.||Other Indian Millets||Regional Global|
|Oryza sativa||Rice, cultivated||Global|
|Oryza spp.||Rice, wild||Global|
|Triticum spp.||Wheat, cultivated||Global, Regional|
|Triticum spp.||Wheat, wild||Global|
|Food legumes||Cicer spp.||Chickpea||Global|
|Vicia faba||Faba bean||Global|
|Arachis spp.||Groundnut||Global, Regional|
|Lupinus spp.||Lupin||Global, European|
|Pisum spp.||Pea||Global, Regional|
|Phaseolus spp.||Bean, cultivated||Global, European|
|Phaseolus spp.||Bean, wild||Global|
|Glycine spp.||Soybean, wild||Global|
|Vigna spp.||Bean, cultivated||Global|
|Vigna spp.||Bean, wild||Global|
|Psophocarpus spp.||Winged bean||Global|
|Root crops||Manihot spp.||Cassava, seed||Global|
|Solanum spp.||Potato, seed||Global|
|Ipomoea spp.||Sweet potato, seed||Global, Asian|
|Vegetables||Allium spp.||Global, Asian|
|Amaranthus spp.||Global, Asian|
|Cruciferae: (includes: Brassica carinata, B. oleracea, Raphanus, wild species)||Global, East Asian|
|Oilseed, green manures (includes: B. campestris, B. juncea, B. napus, Sinapis alba)||Global, East Asian|
|Vegetables, fodders (includes: B. campestris, B. juncea, B. napus)||Global, East Asian|
|Lycopersicon spp.||Tomato||Global, Asian|
|Abelmoschus spp.||Okra |
Southeast Asian vegetables
|Cucurbitaceae (includes: Benincasa, Luffa, Momordica, Trichosanthes, Cucumis, Citrullus, Cucurbita)||Global|
|Industrial||Beta spp.||Beet||Global, Mediterranean|
|Crops||Gossypium spp.||Cotton||Global, Mediterranean|
|Forages||Legumes: Centrosema, Desmodium, Desmathus, Stylosanthes, Leucaena, Lotononis, Macroptilium, Zornia, Neonotonia, Trifolium||Global, African|
|Grasses: Cynodon, Cenchrus, Digitaria, Pennisetum, Paspalum, Urochloa||Global|
|Root Crops (field coll.)||Manihot spp.||Cassava||Global, Asian|
|Ipomoea spp.||Sweet potato||Global, Asian Pacific|
|Fruits (field coll.)||Musa spp.||Banana||Global, Asian and Pacific Asia|
|Citrus spp.||East, South Asian, Mediterranean, African, North and Latin American|
|Industrial (field coll.)||Theobroma spp.||Cocoa||Global|
|Almond||1985||Panicum miliaceum and P. sumatrense||1985|
|Colocasia||1980||Setaria italica and S. pumila||1985|
|Echinochloa millet||1983||Vigna aconitifolia and V. trilobata||1985|
|Faba bean||1985||Vigna mungo and V. radiata||1985|
|Finger millet||1985||Winged bean||1982|
|Forage grass||1985||Bambarra groundnut||1987|
|Forage legumes||1985||Brassica campestris||1987|
|Lupin||1981||Brassica and Raphanus||1988|
|Not yet published|
|Brassica juncea||Phaseolus (wild species)|
|Brassica napus||Raphanus sativus|
|Brassica oleracea||Vigna umbelata and V. angularis|