BEIJING, May 12, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A report by China.org.cn on China conservation of wild germplasm:
It is necessary to review and summarize the progress made in the conservation of wild genetic material in the development of the national action plan for the conservation and development of wild genetic material in ChinaLi Dezhu, a professor at the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), argues recently in an article published on the Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Li points out in his article “Progress and Prospects of Conservation of Wild Germplasm”, genetic resources are important strategic resources for the national interest, security and sustainable economic and social development of the country. With their great potential in bio-industrial applications, wild germplasm has received global attention and should be integrated into the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and national action plans for the conservation of wild plants. “With advances in biotechnology, genetic material has become an important strategic resource of a country and a measure of overall national strength that determines national sovereignty and security,” Li said.
In this article, Li and his colleagues define “germplasm” as genetic resources with vitality or reproducibility. With the rapid development of modern agriculture and biotechnology, the use of genetic material to improve the characteristics and qualities of animals and plants offers potential solutions to major problems in the food, health and the environment. But with the intensification of human activities and climate change, the habitats of many wild animals and plants have been destroyed. Wild germplasm today faces an unprecedented crisis that threatens the sustainable development of human society. Therefore, it is necessary to develop appropriate strategies for the conservation of germplasm and to strengthen the protection and use of germplasm and the construction of a seed bank.
The document mentions that both in situ and ex situ strategies are commonly used for the conservation of wild genetic material. “Theoretically, in situ conservation is the best strategy because it preserves not only the germplasm but also its ecosystem, habitat and species interaction, and maintains ecosystem services. However, with the intensification of human activities and changes overall, in situ conservation suffers from problems such as insufficient area of protection, insufficient capacity and absence of key species in protected areas.In this case, ex situ conservation can be an alternative to the conservation of wild species. Li says. “Conservation of wild plant germplasm by seed banks with the freeze-drying technique is considered the most cost-effective method of ex situ conservation. For animals, frozen sperm/embryos or cryopreserved primary cells isolated and cultured from endangered species can also be used for germplasm preservation.
China has made remarkable progress in building infrastructure and preserving wild germplasm. As a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, China has paid great attention to biodiversity conservation since the 21st century and established the Chinese National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation. China also defined medium and long-term strategic objectives, delineated priority regions for biodiversity conservation and determined a series of priority areas and actions for protection. “Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party, China included building an ecological civilization in the national development plan, proposed the vision of building a Beautiful China, and legalized biodiversity management. The government has issued a series of regulations, established a number of preservation facilities, and encouraged the sharing of resources and information,” Li said.
In Li’s opinion, China developed management systems and measures for the conservation of germplasm, enacted and revised laws, policies and regulations, and established systems for the management and conservation of wild germplasm as part of an integrated effort to integrate the conservation of biodiversity. Biodiversity cataloging is ongoing, providing baseline data for the conservation of wild genetic material. China also promotes in situ conservation and ex situ conservation, and builds major projects and platforms for germplasm conservation. “Resources have been integrated and platforms have been built to shift to openness, sharing and specific services,” Li writes.
The document suggests that it is crucial to develop China national wild germplasm preservation strategy by improving top-down design and overall planning. The Wildlife Germplasm Bank of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is a scientific research platform and a reserve of strategic resources. “The bank aims to build the capacity of China to implement international conventions to gain the initiative to participate in or lead international plans, and to provide systematic consultation and a basis for decision-making to industrial services and local governments through the enrichment of physical objects, data and technology. Therefore, planning for the collection and conservation of wild genetic material should be pursued on this basis,” Li continues. “For resources with relatively mature conservation theories and technologies and remarkable protection performance, it is necessary to stabilize and improve the capacity of the facilities. For resources that cannot be conserved at scale due to technical barriers, active planning and incremental promotion are required to establish a quantitative advantage through long-term accumulation.”
Li’s other suggestions include the improvement of wildlife survey and collection projects and the evaluation of germplasm traits, the application and implementation of laws and regulations on the protection of biological resources, the promoting cooperation and joint work plans on germplasm management and regulatory enforcement, building up a talented team to strengthen the management and operation of germplasm facilities, increasing the contribution to the basic research and the development of technical standards, and raising public awareness of germplasm conservation through training and citizen science programs.
The conservation of wild germplasm is essential for the sustainable development of the nation