The genetic resources of a functional plant species include all the genetic configurations generated in the course of its evolution, which are the result of both natural and artificial selection. When old varieties are no longer cultivated, the genetic pool of the species is impoverished, which contradicts the aims of biodiversity conservation. Although in situ conservation is the most desirable form of conservation, it is not always feasible. Frequently, the only chance to save the genetic information of a species or variety is to preserve propagation units in gene banks. For this purpose, the National Centre for Plant Genetic Resources: Polish Genebank (NCPGR) organizes annual collecting missions across Poland, targeted at local populations of cultivated plants and accompanying species, wild crop relatives, spices, medicinal plants and local grass ecotypes.
Western and northern parts of the country are sources of genetic material of old traditional fruit crops. Seed samples and reproductive material are most often obtained from farmers or on local markets. Home gardens and orchards are the most frequent source of horticultural crops. Wild relatives of crop plants, medicinal and aromatic plants are predominantly collected from natural sites. For grass accessions and forage plants, old pastures and meadows are the target sites. There are also foreign collecting expeditions organized.
NCPGR collects seeds, bulbs and grafts and catalogues them in a dedicated database. The collection strategies vary with the plant group. To obtain the necessary amounts of seeds, NCPGR sends samples to other institutions that breed the respective plant group. The returned seeds are deposited under conditions adequate for long-term storage. Vegetatively propagating species and trees are placed in gene-bank plantations.
Task 1.2 Collection and conservation in the field collections, in vitro and cryopreservation, characterization, evaluation, documentation and distribution of genetic resources and information on crops, their wild relatives and accompanying species.