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Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Federal Research Centre
for Cultivated Plants

Temporary Head
Dr. Thilo Hammann

Groß Lüsewitz
Rudolf-Schick-Platz 3a
18190 Sanitz, Germany

Ms Annett Sitte
Tel: +49(0)38209 45-200
Fax: +49(0)38209 45-222

Gabriele Platek
Tel.: 038209 45-100
Fax: 038209 45-120

E-mail: zl@  jki.bund.  de

Institute booklet

Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture – examination, utilisation, maintenance

What trait expressions plant genetic resources (PGR) can provide for breeding agricultural crop plants adapted to sustainable production systems? And what are the avenues to use this genetic potential for plant breeding and preserve it for future generations? Our research is targeted to give answers to these questions and to illustrate the value of PGR warranting their protection. We participate in international networks to devise strategies for preserving and managing plant genetic diversity in the natural habitats.

Modern agriculture faces complex challenges. There are ever-growing requirements towards an agricultural production which meets economic, social and ecologic targets of sustainability. Rising demands of society and consumers towards the nutritional and process quality of food and feed, diversification of usage profiles of our crop plants, climate change, safeguarding global nutrition with a limited agricultural area, as well as a declining biological diversity in agricultural landscapes pose tremendous challenges to agriculture.

Plant breeding is key to face these challenges and genetic diversity is its foundation.

Genetic diversity for plant breeding is represented by the plant genetic resources of a given crop species. These resources comprise modern and obsolete cultivars, landraces, and crop wild relatives. We explore the genetic diversity hidden in the plant genetic resources of specific crop plants and its potential to be used for breeding plants with improved yield, yield stability, valuable ingredients, or plant health. We are interested both in crop species well established in Germany's agriculture and in under-utilized or novel crops which potentially could add to agricultural diversity.

Besides researching the genetic variants of valuable traits we devise methods to render such variants accessible to plant breeding. Furthermore, together with partners at a national and international scale we devise strategies for the genetic management of crop wild relatives in their natural habitats (in situ), as well as for the genetic management of domesticated PGR (e. g., landraces) in the context of agricultural production systems (on-farm level).

The examination of genetic diversity provided by plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, its utilization and maintenance is a service from breeding research which hardly can be overestimated in its socioeconomic relevance. Providing this service is a task we are committed to.