Germplasm is living tissue from which new plants can be
grown. It can be a seed or another plant part – a leaf,
a piece of stem, pollen or even just a few cells that
can be turned into a whole plant. Germplasm contains the
information for a species’ genetic makeup, a valuable
natural resource of plant diversity.
benefits from uniformity among crop plants within a
variety, which ensures consistent yields and make
management easier. However, genetic uniformity leaves
crops especially vulnerable to new pests and stresses.
Genetic diversity of germplasm gives plant breeders the
sustained ability to develop new high yielding, high
quality varieties that can resist constantly evolving
pests, diseases and environmental stresses. Sexually
compatible wild species
and landraces – ancestral varieties of crop species- are
the key to genetic diversity, but the amount of land
where plants grow wild continues to shrink and many
plant species and varieties are disappearing. This is
why the plant science community has developed
conservation programs to gather, preserve, evaluate,
catalogue and distribute germplasm for people all over
the world to use.
Farming could be considered the original biological
technology (biotechnology) when, some 10,000 years ago,
humans began to cultivate and harvest specific plants to
produce food. With increasing knowledge of genetics,
plant breeders have accelerated the selection process,
steadily increasing crop yields and enhancing quality.
Some of the new technologies include:
genomics, the study
of the genome* of organisms;
process of determining the genotype*;
an externally generated change in the structure of
DNA* or chromosomes often resulting in a
visible or detectable trait alteration;
phenomics, a field
of study concerned with the characterization of phenotypes*; and
large-scale study of proteins, particularly their
structures and functions.
complete set of chromosomes carried
by a cell.
total of all genetic information
contained in an individual organism.
most organisms, DNA
(deoxyribonucleic acid) carries the
primary genetic information. DNA is
a molecule consisting of long chains
of nucleotides. Each nucleotide
consists of a base (abbreviated A,
T, G or C) linked to a sugar
(deoxyribose) and a phosphate
Observable or detectable
characteristics of organism that
result from interactions of its
genetic constitution with the
environment in which it grows.