Gene Banks and the World's Food

Gene Banks and the World's Food

DONALD L. PLUCKNETT
NIGEL J.H. SMITH
J. T. WILLIAMS
N. MURTHI ANISHETTY
Copyright Date: 1987
Pages: 262
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztt0n
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  • Book Info
    Gene Banks and the World's Food
    Book Description:

    Gene Banks and the World's Food contributes to the crucial debate on how best to preserve some of society's most valuable raw material. The authors also provide an up-to-date report on the status and locations of gene banks, which includes the latest available information on germplasm holdings by crop. They (hen discuss how these holdings are being used to develop better crop varieties for the benefit of people around the world.

    Originally published in 1987.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5811-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. A NOTE ON TERMINOLOGY
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. 1 GENE BANKS: A GLOBAL RESOURCE
    (pp. 3-18)

    The world’s human population has reached 4.8 billion and is expected at least to double before it stabilizes. How to feed our growing ranks is a formidable challenge for all mankind. For some countries there is no alternative to increased use of marginal lands for production, and this approach in turn requires crop plants bred for such unfavorable conditions. But if we are to avoid further damage to marginal environments and a downward spiral of ever-declining yields, much of the increased food output will have to come from improved productivity on existing farm lands. Genetic manipulation of plants is one...

  7. 2 SEEDS IN DUE SEASON
    (pp. 19-40)

    Farmers need an adequate supply of robust and reliable seed in time for planting. This basic tenet of agriculture was achieved in early times quite differently than now, but the principle still holds. To highlight this theme and underscore its dependence on a well-preserved and evaluated germplasm base, we examine in this chapter the pattern of a relatively rapid turnover of varieties on modern farms. Unlike traditional farms where varieties may last for decades or generations, modern varieties usually last only a few years before they are replaced by superior material.

    With regard to seed quality and sustainable agriculture, we...

  8. 3 PLANT COLLECTORS AND GENE BANKS
    (pp. 41-71)

    For most of Earth’s history the genetic diversity of plants has been preserved in wild habitats or in farmers’ fields. Besides the overgrazing by domestic cattle and goats in parts of the Middle East and Central America, nothing has significantly threatened wild relatives of our crop plants until this century. The genetic richness of crops has been maintained for at least 10,000 years by farmers saving seed or clones for the next planting, usually within a year. Seeds for the next sowing have been protected from insects and mammals by burying them in baskets surrounded by ash, sealing them in...

  9. 4 GENE BANKS
    (pp. 72-96)

    How does a gene bank operate? What are the procedures followed in germplasm collection and storage? And what are the hazards involved? In this chapter we address these questions by outlining the principles guiding the acquisition of plant samples for preservation, describing the functioning of a typical gene bank, and analyzing the problems encountered in storing germplasm. We also explore solutions to difficulties encountered in germplasm storage and describe types of germplasm collections, including those storing orthodox seeds. We go on to discuss the complementary roles of field gene banks and botanic gardens in maintaining economic plants that produce recalcitrant...

  10. 5 BIOTECHNOLOGY AND GENETIC RESOURCES
    (pp. 97-109)

    With the possible exception of atomic fission or fusion, few scientific topics have recently caught the public’s imagination or stirred such excitement as biotechnology. No doubt part of this attention is due to the rush of venture capital into biotechnology firms, but there is also heightened anticipation that biotechnology will provide us with astounding new products and medical and nutritional advances that will significantly improve daily life.

    Biotechnology has been defined as “the use of living organisms or their components in industrial processes” (NASULGC, 1983). A somewhat more precise definition is provided by Hardy (1984): “The use of a biological...

  11. 6 GENES IN THE BANK
    (pp. 110-141)

    In this chapter we present a general status report on germplasm collections for the important crops. Our approach is necessarily statistical, but we also analyze collection and evaluation gaps and the locations of gene banks. We wish to emphasize that large numbers of accessions do not necessarily indicate that a crop has been adequately collected. The degree of overlap in collections and of comprehensiveness varies considerably among crops. Furthermore, the size of collections and their degree of coverage of landraces and wild relatives are only rough estimates made by staff of the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), gene-bank...

  12. 7 GENE-BANK DIVIDENDS
    (pp. 142-154)

    In previous chapters we have outlined the rationale for gene banks, the way they operate, and the range and scope of germplasm collections. We pointed out that breeders need to be able to fall back on diverse and thoroughly evaluated germplasm accessions if they are to continue to help raise agricultural productivity and to prevent drastic yield fluctuations. One can advocate the preservation of plant genetic diversity on scientific, aesthetic, and even moral grounds, but, for better or worse, economics is also a powerful motivator of human behavior. The preservation of plant germplasm will be easier if it can be...

  13. 8 WILD SPECIES: THE WIDER GENE POOL
    (pp. 155-170)

    Wild relatives of crops have often played important roles in sustaining agricultural productivity. People have been adopting wild species for thousands of years, and after domestication, some of the resulting cultivars have continued to hybridize naturally with their wild relatives. Such spontaneous gene flow helps maintain the vigor of crops and can lead to the development of new crops. Plant breeders have turned to wild species mainly for sources of resistance to diseases, pests, and stressful environments, such as those with adverse climates. Wild species, which include plants in natural environments as well as weedy forms that thrive in disturbed...

  14. 9 A CASE STUDY IN RICE GERMPLASM: IR36
    (pp. 171-185)

    Because not many people have the opportunity to learn just how genetic resources are used to improve our crops, we will tell, in detail, the story of how cultivated and wild rice stocks were used to produce the most widely planted rice variety in history, IR36. It is a fascinating account, but it is not unique; similar histories could be written for popular varieties of wheat, maize, or grain legumes. But the IR36 story is a good example of how plant breeders and other agricultural scientists work to produce the food crops that sustain us. The crop became the world’s...

  15. 10 GLOBAL IMPERATIVES
    (pp. 186-196)

    Gene banks are largely a twentieth-century effort. Before 1900, most germplasm resources were held by farmers, and governments and scientists played a minor role in preserving and exploiting plant genetic diversity. For a few crops, notably tropical cash crops, botanic gardens, breeding programs operated by colonial powers, and private collectors held the major germplasm collections.

    In the early 1900s, the Soviet Union and the United States initiated major plant-breeding programs and began to move towards more systematic collecting and use of crop germplasm. Early plant gathering expeditions were often extensive, as in the case of Vavilov’s numerous trips, but the...

  16. APPENDICES
    (pp. 197-208)
  17. LITERATURE CITED
    (pp. 209-232)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 233-247)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 248-248)