Roland von Bothmer

Need for Seed Banks in a Changing Climate

Roland von Bothmer & Agnese Kolodinska Brantestam

NordGen, Alnarp, Sweden

Climate change will have an impact on diverse geographic/environmental zones and on various crop species showing different ability to adapt to these changes (Alemayehu et al. 2013; Lane and Jarvis, 2007; Olesen et al. 2011). A number of crops, e g the majority of temperate cereals, will have severe production problems and extensive crop improvement programs are needed to address these challenges.

Gene banks have double role in addressing these issues:

Materials with high potential in breeding for a changing climate are assembled in gene bank collections. Not only crop wild relatives (CWR) and exotic landraces, but also material resulting from various research projects, where genes from wild or exotic sources are integrated into adapted material and thus a number of accessions possess induced variation, e g collections of mutants. There are some limiting factors for utilization of these materials in breeding, in particular, lack of data on stress responses and disease resistance related to future climate. Effective tools for selection of relevant accessions and screening for modeled future climate must be developed in order to select promising genotypes. So far, characterization and evaluation of gene bank material have rarely involved performance of accessions in future climate conditions.

Climate changes will have effects not only in the agricultural production but also on access to genetic resources available for crop improvement. Crop wild relatives are in many cases threatened in their native habitats and there are high risks of extinction (Jarvis et al. 2008). In these cases gene bank ex-situ collections might be the only source for acquiring the germplasm.



Alemayehu, F.R., Frenck G., van der Linden, L., Nørgaard Mikkelsen, T. and R. Bagger Jørgensen 2013. Can barley (Hordeum vulgare L. s.l.) adapt to fast climate changes? A controlled selection experiment.

Jarvis A., Lane A. and R. J. Hijmans 2008. The effect of climate change on crop wild relatives Agriculture, Ecosystem and Environment, Vol. 126, Issues 1-2, pp. 13-23.

Olesen J.E., Trnka M., Kersebaum K.C., Skjelvågd A.O., Seguine, B., Peltonen-Sainiof  P., Rossig F., Kozyrah J. and F. Micale 2011. Impacts and adaptation of European crop production systems to climate change. Europ. J. Agronomy 34, 96-112.