Establishing DivSeek to drive innovation collaborations
Problems with the provision of food are an annual occurrence, at multiple locations across the globe. On any given day, it’s estimated that 800 million individuals are food insecure. Fortunately, many scientists have been working hard to find new ways of increasing food security, some of which has been through the development of new food plant varieties.
Established in 2015 and based in Saskatoon, DivSeek is a global effort by plant breeders and researchers to collaborate, share resources and technologies, all with the goal of enhancing food security. Globally, DivSeek is a partnership of 68 different organizations, ranging from government ministries to research institutes to universities across 31 countries. Together they have endorsed a charter to further the development of new crop varieties. DivSeek is not a funded agency, research facility, databank or germplasm bank, but a “community driven initiative”.
Creating a community
The ability to better understand the genomic diversity in plant varieties across various location can help the development of new varieties be faster and more efficient. This potentially can lower the cost of developing new varieties, which is of interest for all countries, but especially developing countries whose available financial resources for agricultural research and development (R&D) can be limited. When information is shared between parties, like the DivSeek community, process efficiencies are frequently achieved.
As an international collaboration, DivSeek helps organizations with the sharing of research methodologies and best practices. Sharing open source software that will facilitate data and information sharing, but as well as endorsing FAIR data (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable). With an estimated 7 million accessions (accession: plants grown and collected from a single species location) in genebanks and the sharing of the information and new technologies could be a crucial aspect of breeding new varieties with improved traits.
Out to meet demands
Our populations are growing and so is our demand for nutritious foods. While demands are high, the future of supply is questionable with the concerns of climate changes impacts, and the availability of quality land and water resources. Food staple crops, rice, wheat, and corn account for an estimated 60% of global nutrition, which needs to be diversified. The solutions will not likely come from one single source, but the efforts of many. This is what DivSeek is working to help incubate, the early stages of sharing information, for the great goal of meeting the unknown demands of the future. By offering a platform to share, DivSeek is an international initiative seeking to sustainably feed a growing population.
Ensuring that future populations have access to nutritious foods is the cornerstone to agricultural research. Gaining insights into genetic variation and being able to share these resources, will allow plant breeders around the world to develop new varieties, further off-setting the impacts of climate change on local food security. To learn more about this, check out DivSeeks video and check out their webpage to learn more about community efforts DivSeek partners are making.