Spotlight: The Australian Pastures Genebank

By christelle.rabil@croptrust.org
1 August 2022

Learn about the work of Australia’s national pasture and forage genebank.

Genebanks can use subsets to promote a group of accessions with specific traits of current or potential future interest to users, or that otherwise make sense together, and have sufficient quantity for immediate distribution. 

Examples include drought-tolerant material, accessions that have been purified and sequenced, and core collections. Users may request the entire subset from the genebank, or pick only some accessions from the list. Of course, users still have the possibility to choose material from the entire collection, or implement their own methods for selecting accessions for their research, based on the data available to them in Genesys and elsewhere. But having ready-made subsets available can save considerable time and effort.

The most recent observations uploaded to Genesys come from the Australian Pastures Genebank (APG). In this article, we highlight a subset developed by scientists at the Australian Trifolium Genetic Resource Center. This has now closed, but the germplasm is available in the APG.

The genebank

The Australian Pastures Genebank (APG) is located on the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus . It is Australia’s first national, comprehensive pasture and forage genetic resource centre. Managed by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), genebank is custodian of more than 80,000 accessions of tropical and temperate pasture and forage species of value to Australian agriculture.

The APG operates under the framework of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and thus provides seeds and data under the Standard Materials Transfer Agreement (SMTA) in accordance with the APG Seed Distribution Policy, using the FAO’s Easy SMTA system for recording seed distributions.

The species 

Subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum L.) is the most widely sown annual pasture legume species in southern Australia, valued by the livestock and grains industries as a source of high-quality forage and for its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and thus improve soils. Since its initial accidental introduction into Australia in the 19th century and subsequent commercialisation in the early 1900s, 45 cultivars have been registered in Australia (Nichols et al. 2013).

The subset

APG has published a subterranean clover core collection of 97 accessions using eco-geographical, agro-morphological and Simple Sequence Repeat molecular data. This subset was developed by scientists at the Australian Trifolium Genetic Resource Center. This has now closed, but the germplasm is available for distribution in the APG and in the Margot Forde Germplasm Center. It captures almost 80% of the diversity of subterranean clover in a small fraction of the overall collection (Nichols et al. 2013; K. Ghamkhar et al. 2015). The subterranean clover core collection was selected from the 9,657 accessions held initially at the Australian Trifolium Genetic Resource Centre and now relocated to the Australian Pastures Genebank. It has been used to examine morphological diversity within this species (Abdi et al. 2020). The development of a core collection for subterranean clover will allow more efficient utilization of this large l collection and represents a primary source for the exploration of new traits and selection of parents for future breeding. 

The team at the Crop Trust thanks the subset creators and all at the APG for their efforts and contributions to keeping Genesys up-to-date.

Our webinar on 24 May 2022 focused on how to manage collection subsets and trait data in Genesys. About 70 participants from 35 organizations joined the session. The recording is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hj6xMu4YRzE 

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