Coordination of genebank activities between different national collections of berry genetic resources in Europe in the frame of ECPGR
Cultivated strawberries (Fragaria L.), raspberries (Rubus L.), and several other berries belong to the Rosaceae. Fragaria as well as Rubus are comprised of a highly heterozygous series with a range of ploidy levels. Blackcurrants, red currants and gooseberry belong to the Saxifragaceae, whereas blueberry (Vaccinium L.) crops belong to the Ericaceae. Domestication, breeding, and the transition from small-scale production to intensive production in specialized farms have resulted in a reduction of both morphological and genetic diversity. Therefore, retaining the variability available today to limit the decrease of the genetic base is important. Most of the temperate fruit species are genetically heterozygous and vegetatively propagated. In Europe, collections of berry genetic resources are maintained in the field as active plantations where the accessions are available for characterization, evaluation, and distribution. Backups for the plant material are needed to provide security in case of a disease or an environmental disaster. A long-term coordinated work with extending collaborative actions of berry genetic resources on the European level is necessary. In March 2019, the new Berries Working group was established under the umbrella of the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (http://www.ecpgr.cgiar.org/ working-groups/berries/). At present, 85 members from 22 European countries have accepted collaboration within this working group. The main goal of the working group is to coordinate the activities between the national collections based on a continuous long-term network cooperation. This includes different activities for harmonizing and enhancement of management of existing ex situ collections of berry genetic resources. The European Search Catalogue for Plant Genetic Resources will be used for the documentation.