In August, 2017 head curator Chris Kik will visit Uzbekistan to collect seeds of melon landraces. In September he will travel to Jordan, in search of wild relatives of lettuce.
Together with local experts, Chris will collect variation in melon and wild lettuce, which is not sufficiently available in genebanks. In pre expeditions the local experts have identified regions where this variation can be found.
Seeds of melon, Cucumis melo, will be collected on markets and farms. In this area there’s a large genetic variety because melon is being cultivated in Uzbekistan for more than 2000 years: a Centre of Diversity.
Wild relatives of lettuce, particularly Lactuca aculeate, will be collected in Jordan in the wild.
New traits for breeding
Landraces and crop wild relatives have traits which are not present in modern cultivars or genebank material. The purpose of the missions is to find traits which are important for improvement of the crop, such as biotic and abiotic resistances.
The collection missions are carried out in cooperation with breeding companies. They partially finance the missions and help with multiplying the collected material. After an embargo period of five years, the material will be included in the CGN collection and will be available for research, breeding and education under the conditions of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement. The material will also be stored in genebanks in the origin countries.
Including these two missions, Chris has carried out 14 missions in seven years and in seven countries. On average he collected 50 accessions per mission.