Special Updated Feature on FIGS - Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy - what is available in Australia
Prepared by Ken Street, Sally Norton, Brett Lobsey and Julie Nicol
In the last Newsletter (June 2017) the Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy (FIGS) was introduced as tool to help efficiently mine genebanks for novel variation in landrace and wild material to use in plant breeding and research. Basically, the strategy sets out to improve the probability of capturing user defined adaptive traits in small “best-bet” subsets of landraces or wild material conserved in genebanks. This reduces the cost associated with evaluating large sets of germplasm selected using a “shot gun” or core collection approach to germplasm selection.
FIGS is based on the Darwinian principal of natural selection. That is, the presence of adaptive traits within a plant population, in this case landraces, primitives or wild relatives of crop plants, will be influenced by long-term environmental factors such as climate, and soil conditions.
The FIGS process works by using environmental data associated with germplasm collection sites to “predict” where certain traits are most likely to have emerged due to selection pressures imposed by the environmental conditions. Specialized GIS and statistical tools are used to do this.
A full link to FIGS and their use can be found HERE
The work to develop and deploy FIGS is supported by GRDC. The research has been headed by ICARDA with collaborators from the Australian genetic resources community and other collaborators overseas.
An updated summary of the FIGS sets available in Australia (at the AGG) is provided below for a number of crops and traits.
The full UPDATED information is available HERE
Note: For any given table below, the number of unique accessions may be less than the table totals because some accessions are members of multiple trait sets.
So far over 21,400 accessions belonging to FIGS sets have been distributed from the winter cereals collection and the temperate legumes collections to the local user community as indicated in the table below.
Number of FIGS set accessions distributed
*total distribution: includes cases of multiple dispatches per accession
While research to refine the predictive power of FIGS is ongoing it is routinely deployed in the hunt for previously undiscovered traits and for genetic variation of current traits required by the plant breeding community. The following table details some of the discoveries that have been reported back to the genebank by researchers supplied with relatively small subsets of ICARDA germplasm:
Trait variation discovered using FIGS
|Barley||Barley yellow dwarf virus|
|Barley||Net Blotch – net form|
|Barley||Net blotch – spot form|
|Barley||Russian wheat aphid|
|Wheat||Russian wheat aphid|
|Chickpea, Lentil||Beet western yellows virus|
|Chickpea, Lentil||Chickpea chlorotic stunt virus|
|Chickpea, Lentil||Alfalfa mosaic virus|
|Chickpea, lentil||Beet yellow mosaic virus|
|Faba bean||Drought tolerance|
While research to refine the predictive power of FIGS is ongoing it is routinely deployed in the hunt for previously undiscovered traits and for genetic
ICARDA distributes over 30,000 accessions annually (less since the Syrian conflict) and as it leads the FIG research it routinely deploys FIGS to select material requested for trait discovery purposes (most requests).
In this context, GRDC projects that involve offshore evaluation of landraces conserved in the ICARDA genebank benefit from having access to sets of material selected using FIGS.
The following tables detail FIGS sets developed for on-going GRDC linked projects operating out of ICARDA. For further information contact Ken Street firstname.lastname@example.org
Chickpea FIGS sets supplied to GRDC project 1CA0011
|Botrytis grey mould||200|
Barley FIGS sets supplied to GRDC project 1CA0010
|Barley stem gall midge||339|
|Barley yellow mosaic virus||200|
Chickpea and Lentil FIGS sets supplied to the ICARDA Viral lab DAN00140
|Beet western yellow virus||274|
|Chickpea chlorotic stunt virus||274|
|Alfalfa mosaic virus||274|
*Same sets tested for all viruses
Many Australian collaborators have received FIG accessions and if you have evaluated then it is of utmost importance to share the results with the genebank when you are finished. This data is invaluable, not only help refine the FIGS process, but also allows the germplasm curator to build a more complete picture of what useful material is sitting in the genebank. This in term allows them to better service the user community. Please kindly contact Brett Lobsey to share your data email@example.com
The FIGS sets conserved in the AGG are available to the Australian scientific community upon request. You can make a request to the genebank by contacting Sally Norton firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to discuss if or not FIGS could be used to identify germplasm that suites your research needs then you can contact email@example.com