National Coordination Structure
The National Coordination Structure was created in 2016 by the Ministry of Agriculture. Set up within GEVES as part of the Variety Study Department, this new organisation has two main objectives:
Stakeholders involved in the conservation of plant genetic resources (PGR) have stressed the need for a nationally-recognised resources organisation to help address their conservation challenges. The current absence of national coordination and the dispersion of information makes it difficult to build links and synergies between stakeholders or efficiently relay initiatives developed in France to international bodies dealing with PGR conservation.
The Ministry of Agriculture is also interested in gaining an overall view of the state of ex situ, in situ and “on farm” conservation of cultivated plant genetic resources and their crop wild relatives, and the stakeholders involved in conservation. This overview would help to promote conserved crop diversity in France and the work of stakeholders and local/national initiatives around these species.
A wide variety of stakeholders are involved in the conservation of crop species, acting either individually or as part of a structured network. Numerous initiatives exist at local, regional, national and international level. However, it is not always easy to identify the stakeholders involved or the collections that exist for a particular species.
By identifying collections, stakeholders and initiatives, it will be possible to create a register which can then be completed and updated periodically as information is provided. Assistance will be provided to stakeholders as needed to help them meet the criteria for stakeholder and collection recognition as established by the PGR CTPS Section. They will also be informed about regulatory and organisational aspects.
- What are threatened collections and “orphan species”?
Certain species or species groups, which are important for French agriculture, do not have an identified collection which groups together their genetic and morphological diversity, or when a unique collection exists, it is stocked without regeneration or characterization. These species are called orphan species.
Threatened collections refer to collections with managers who are facing financial or technical (regeneration, conservation) difficulties.
- Which species are concerned in France?
Vegetable: Bean, Lentil, Vetch, Onion, Beetroot, Radish, Lamb’s lettuce, Fennel, Asparagus, Leek, Lettuce, Chick pea
Fruit: Small fruits, Strawberry, Walnut
Ornamental: Tulip, Gladiolus
- What initiatives are envisaged?
When a collection has been identified, the samples’ conservation state must be assessed (viability, conservation method, etc.), along with any relevant data (geographical origin, name, etc.).
Once this first inventory has been carried out, partners must be identified and contacted who would be willing to be involved in a network for the long-term conservation of these collections. Structuring conservation schemes in this way makes it possible to share the costs of conservation, regeneration, and resource characterisation. The network will be comprised of a pilot responsible for coordinating network activities, a manager or managers of the PGR physical collection, and partners involved in regenerating and characterising material.
This new conservation network will be in charge of assessing if a collection is reflective of the French heritage for the species in question, and determining any absence of original material which might be held by plant breeders, farmers, individuals, etc.
Following these assessments, national collections can be created for each species, with the implementation of characterisation projects (morphological, phenotypic, genetic, nutritional…) based on these resources.
These conservation schemes will be submitted to the PGR CTPS Section to validate the coherence of the proposals.
- First initiatives
Three orphan collections are conserved at GEVES’s Brion Unit: bean, lentil and onion. An inventory of these collections and related information was conducted for all three species. Parts of these collections were regenerated and characterised at Brion. With a view to building conservation networks for these species, a search for potential partners is currently underway.
In September 2017, a preliminary study (Gelenha project) was launched to create conservation networks for three leguminous plants (vetch, lentil, bean).
Funding are allocated by the French Ministry of Agriculture through call for applications to help threatened collections and contribute to the implementation of measures relating to the conservation of plant genetic resources.
Various measures are envisaged:
-assistance in having an orphan collection taken over by a new stakeholder, or setting up a conservatory orchard,
– assistance in improving collection conservation conditions,
– financing for studies in collection characterisation (description, eliminating duplicates, etc.).
A better understanding of the stakeholders involved and the species they conserve will help to provide a space for dialogue around issues they are facing.
Once common issues have been identified for species and/or conservation methods, working groups for data organisation or traceability of actions can be set up.
To help foster synergies, specialised events at French, European and international level will be organised to exchange information and discuss specific issues relating to PGR management of cultivated species. The first PGR event will take place in 2018.
The National Coordination Structure is part of the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR), with the objective of promoting France’s activities in Europe. It also intends to participate in a group aiming to ensure the long-term conservation of plant genetic resources and facilitate their use in Europe.
The participation of French stakeholders in this European network, through working groups for species and species groups, will make it possible to pool resources (descriptors, databases, etc.) and develop partnerships for characterising collections.
French national collections are regularly updated in the EURISCO European database via the focal point. This database lists all ex situ plant genetic resources collections in Europe.
In Europe and internationally, there are different tools relating to cultivated plant genetic resources and their crop wild relatives.
In support of the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Coordination Structure works to promote France’s activities by following up on actions developed in the framework of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA).
The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), which is a body of the FAO, has developed a Global Plan of Action for the conservation and sustainable utilization of these resources in liaison with the Foundation for Research on Biodiversity, the National Coordination Structure is collecting the necessary information through stakeholder surveys to draw up a report on the implementation of the Action Plan in France.
Ms Audrey DIDIER
Tel +33 (0)2 41 22 86 45
Mr Charles-Henry DUVAL
Technical expert for orphan collections:
Tel +33 (0)2 41 57 23 22
Ms Bernice van ISSUM GROYER
Tel +33 (0)2 41 22 85 95