The Establishment of a Global Crop Register for Musa: Collective Action for the Rehabilitation of Global Public Goods-Phase 2

Published on 22 June 2010

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Start Date: 1 June 2008 | End Date: 31 December 2009


This grant has established a Global Crop Register for Musa within the framework of Activity 3.3 “Design and validation of a crop registry model for priority collections and collections in common” of the World Bank-funded project “Collective Action for the Rehabilitation of Global Public Goods in the CGIAR Genetic Resources System: Phase 2 (GPG2). GPG2 focuses on key crops held in common across CG centres (cassava, chickpea, forages, rice, wheat), or where global conservation strategies are being developed (Musa, potato, etc.). GPG2 is coordinated by the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and implemented through the CGIAR system-wide information network for genetic resources (SINGER) of crop, forage and tree germplasm.

Holding more than 1200 accessions, Bioversity’s International Transit Centre (ITC) in Leuven is the transit centre for Musa germplasm. It is central to the safe movement of germplasm and has received most of its holdings from field collections that are part of MusaNet (a Bioversity coordinated network that exchanges Musa data and knowledge). Consequently, there is overlap between ITC accessions and those from the donor collections. With ITC being an in vitro collection, no field observations or measurements are made there. Thus, passport data have to be linked to the donors’ data sets on characterization, evaluation, agronomy. Comprehensive identification of common holdings accounts for the fact that traits for characterizing a variety may vary according to environment. The entire ITC collection recently went through a field verification process carried out by partner collections, to check the true-to-type status and identity of the accessions. This information is being used to identify somaclonal variants at the ITC. The proposition is to start from the ITC records and retrace the origin of a given accession, either a collecting mission or another collection.


The original work plan to establish this Crop Musa Register was as follows:

  • Musa Crop Register coverage
  • Descriptors to be collated and included in the Crop Register:
  • Core data sets’, i.e. descriptors common to all GPG2 Crop Registers
  • Crop-specific descriptors
  • Procedures developed to collate/harvest the data from co-operators
  • Implementation of database for Crop Register – database/data work/ products

Significant progress has been made as follows: drafting partners’ agreements and data sourcing; developing a template to facilitate a common agreement on minimum descriptors; amassing a 1340 reference-set of records for the implementation of the Crop register; using IITA collection data to pilot current developments; harmonizing the botanical classification and validation in the 2008 Taxonomy group (TAG) workshop; adapting algorithms for performing comparisons; developing an on-line alpha version of the data processing tool; developing a web interface, and populating the database.


The Musa Crop Register website is not yet fully operational. The comparison method used needs to be fine tuned. A test performed by IITA highlighted a problem on the accuracy of the comparison, so calibration of the method with more data is needed. As the Musa Germplasm Information System (MGIS) is already a register of Musa collections but without cross-referencing, it was decided during the Crop Registers’ Workshop (Aleppo 2010) to merge the Crop Register website with the MGIS website, allowing effective maintenance of the Musa Crop Register in the long-term. This will also improve the content of the MGIS database, with the addition of the cross-referencing methodology developed. According to a new work-plan, website merging will be completed after the end of the GPG 2 project. Follow-up work may be completed within the MusaNet framework, as although this specific grant from ICARDA has come to an end, the work of MGIS continues through the CG system, and further funding will be actively sought, including in the context of proposed the new CG research programmes (CRPs) such as the Roots Tubers and Banana programme.

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