One of the main regulatory missions of GEVES is to provide an official description for candidate varieties of field crops, vegetables, fruit and ornamental plants.
DUS tests are carried out to ensure that a new variety is Distinct from existing varieties, that its characteristics are Uniform, and that the variety is Stable with consistent phenotypic characteristics from one generation to the next.
An official description of the candidate variety is created using in-field observations at different stages of growth. For example, describing shape of leaves, colour of flowers, height of plant, shape of fruit.
To examine the distinctness of candidate varieties compared to existing varieties GEVES uses its extensive reference collections, together with broad-based databases and dedicated software.
In addition to traditional methods, molecular markers and phenotyping tools can also be used.
Some research projects relating to DUS reference collections are based on an approach combining morphological and molecular markers (SSR, SNP, etc.). For example, studying the number of markers to be used, the thresholds to be set, and the calculation of genetic distances to be made.
Through this research, progress is made in:
- Defining minimum genetic thresholds and distances for detecting non-conformities (hybrids and seed lots)
- Optimising management of reference collections
- Improving variety distinction.
Research projects are also planned or on going on the possible use of molecular markers for Distinction, Uniformity and Stability.
Another important area of research for GEVES is the use of phenotyping tools for DUS testing.