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A history of Australian pasture genetic resource collections
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-21, 04:48 authored by Rowan SmithRowan Smith, Harris, CA, Cox, K, McClements, D, Clark, SG, Hossain, Z, Humphries, AW
The introduction of exotic pasture germplasm has formed the foundation of many Australian grazing systems. Scientists have searched the world for plants to improve the feedbase, amassing collections of diverse genetic material, creating genebanks that have made a large contribution to feedbase productivity. These genebanks contain a vast range of legumes, grasses, herbs and shrubs with growth habits ranging from small herbaceous plants to woody trees and life cycles from annuals to short-and long-term perennial plants. They have been collected from cool temperate to tropical climates and arid to high-rainfall zones. Hundreds of cultivars have been developed from material either collected by Australian plant breeders overseas or introduced from overseas genebanks. The collection of this germplasm has enabled plant breeders to extend the area of adaptation of species into climates, soils and systems previously considered marginal. The importance to Australian and world agriculture is increasing as plant breeders seek traits to meet the challenges of a changing climate and animal production systems. Furthermore, urbanisation, landscape degradation and political instability are making it increasingly difficult to collect pasture and forage germplasm from native grasslands in many countries. This emphasises the need to maintain and improve the capacity of the Australian Pastures Genebank (APG). The APG houses ∼85 000 accessions and is a modern, online source of diversity for plant scientists around the world. This paper summarises the history of the founding genebank collections, their environment and farming systems focus, and the visionary and resourceful individuals that built them.
Publication titleCrop and Pasture Science
Department/SchoolTasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)
Place of publicationAustralia
Rights statement© CSIRO 2021