The use of genetic resources in crop improvement: Lessons from China

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The use of crop genetic resources in improvement programmes should be the ultimate objective of all undertakings in the field of germplasm resources. The present situation and future direction of the use of crop germplasm in China was assessed from responses to a questionnaire distributed to 165 plant breeders and curators nationwide. The general opinions for the limiting factors of germplasm utilization were also evaluated. Responses from the questionnaire indicated that the use of germplasm in breeding programmes is much more important than the direct use of germplasm in crop production as cultivars released. Among different types of crop genetic resources, released varieties and breeding lines contribute more to crop breeding. Wild relatives and genetic stocks, however, are expected to play a greater role in the future. Landraces will remain important in improvement. Limited useful germplasm available to breeders is the basic reason for the insufficient use of germplasm in crop breeding at present. The complex reasons which affect the availability of useful germplasm involve the research level, links between breeder and curator and others. To counter these, we propose some suggestions and measures which can be implemented in the near future.

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