Genetic diversity is essential if we are to future-proof agriculture and horticulture. Crops need new properties in order to adapt to climate change, be resistant to diseases and pests, and meet consumer demands.
CGN manages the genebank for plant genetic resources: a large genetic reservoir which breeders can use to develop varieties that are more resistant to diseases or pests, crops that are less susceptible to climate change and products with a specific flavour.
Our crop collection consists of over 23,000 varieties and wild populations of some 30 different crops. The lettuce collection alone totals 2,500 different samples, from modern varieties to those that grow in the wild. CGN has expanded its vegetable collection in recent years with melon, lamb’s lettuce, salsify and carrot.
We retrieve seeds wherever possible – from breeding companies, from the wild, from local markets abroad and from horticultural gardens. The aim is to collect varieties or wild populations with the broadest range of properties of every crop. We carefully select new accessions, evaluate them for usable properties, describe them in detail and conserve them under the best conditions, all in close cooperation with breeders and partner genebanks.
100 heritage varieties
In addition to the above, CGN worked with the De Oerakker foundation to develop a list of 100 heritage varieties. These varieties (such as the old bitter Brussels sprouts, tomato, pea, bean and wheat) are multiplied and made available to the public (hobbyists) to cultivate and consume.
Crop Wild Relatives in the Netherlands
Wild plant species related to our cultivated crops constitute an important source of novel traits for crop improvement, anticipating on a changing climate, emergence of new diseases or changed consumer demands. Such wild species are usually referred to as "Crop Wild Relatives" (CWR).
Because the continued existence of many wild plant species is uncertain due to influences such as pollution, urbanization and climate change, it is important that CWR do not get lost and remain available for crop improvement. Prior to the development of protective measures, one first has to know which CWR are actually occurring within national boundaries. Therefore, CGN carried out a CWR inventory in the Netherlands for the economically most important agricultural and horticultural crops. This inventory is available at CWRnl.nl.
Sharing our knowledge and experience
Since PGR conservation is a global collaborative effort, CGN is ready to share its knowledge and experience whenever possible. Apart from publications in scientific, technical and popular publications, our staff is available for advice and training. We teach in various courses and can also organise tailor-made courses.