Rapid population growth, a changing climate, and increasing constraints on land, water and fertilizer are threatening global food security. Canada could dramatically expand agricultural production to meet increased international demand and to offset predicted declines in crop yields. This will require that plant breeding be accelerated in Canada, with the goal of developing high yielding, locally adapted and environmentally resilient varieties. To be successful, plant breeders will need to leverage the genetic diversity found in the world’s plant genetic resources (“genebanks”) to accelerate crop improvement.
DivSeek is an international initiative with a mission “to enable breeders and researchers to mobilize a vast range of genetic variation to accelerate the rate of crop improvement and furnish food and agricultural products to the growing human population.” DivSeek Canada aims to address this goal by developing an informatic resource platform to unlock the genetic potential found in live collections and seed banks. Adopting the tools developed in this project will enable flax, sunflower and lentil breeders to link agriculturally important plant traits found in the diversity of genebanks to the available genomic information to facilitate crop development for the Canadian environment. The integrated database and bioinformatics platform will be extendable to other small to medium-sized Canadian crop communities who lack the resources and intuitive tools to exploit large amount digital sequence data available.