Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture: opportunities and challenges emerging from the science and information technology revolution

Halewood, Michael
Chiurugwi, Tinashe
Sackville Hamilton, Ruaraidh
Kurtz, Brad
Marden, Emily
Welch, Eric
Michiels, Frank
Mozafari, Javad
Sabran, Muhamad
Patron, Nicola
Kersey, Paul
Bastow, Ruth
Dorius, Shawn
Dias, Sonia
McCouch, Susan
Powell, Wayne
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Over the last decade, there has been an ongoing revolution in the exploration, manipulation, and synthesis of biological systems, through the development of new technologies that generate, analyse and exploit big data. Users of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) can potentially leverage these capacities to significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their efforts to conserve, discover and utilise novel qualities in PGR, and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This review advances the discussion on these emerging opportunities and discusses how taking advantage of them will require data integration and synthesis across disciplinary, organisational and international boundaries, and the formation of multi-disciplinary, international partnerships. We explore some of the institutional and policy challenges that these efforts will face, particularly how these new technologies may influence the structure and role of research for sustainable development, ownership of resources, and access and benefit sharing. We discuss potential responses to political and institutional challenges, ranging from options for enhanced structure and governance of research discovery platforms to internationally brokered benefit-sharing agreements, and identify a set of broad principles that could guide the global community as it seeks or considers solutions.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Halewood, Michael, Tinashe Chiurugwi, Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, Brad Kurtz, Emily Marden, Eric Welch, Frank Michiels et al. "Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture: opportunities and challenges emerging from the science and information technology revolution." New Phytologist 217, no. 4 (2018): 1407-1419, which has been published in final form at doi:10.1111/nph.14993. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

Access and benefit sharing, Big data, Data integration, Farmer’s rights, Global governance, Plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (PGRFA), Sustainable development goals (SDGs), Synthetic biology