SI 8. Seeds of discovery

maize-diversityFoster the targeted mobilization of novel native genetic diversity in breeding programs worldwide by using advanced technologies to fully catalog the genetic heritage of international maize seed collections, and to make the resulting information and knowledge freely available—through a user-friendly, webbased platform and a marker-assisted introgression pipeline.

This Initiative has an immense leverage and impact potential. It will enable the entire maize breeding and research community worldwide to fully utilize the native genetic diversity in the world’s maize genetic resources, also to accelerate breeding gains and counteract the combined and growing negative effects of climate change and scarcity of water, land and nutrients. Genetic diversity is an essential component of breeding progress, and so far the plant breeders have utilized only a minuscule fraction of this bio-resource.

The genebanks in Mexico including the international genebank of CIMMYT hold what the most important collections of maize genetic resources in the world.  So far 4,500 single plant selections representing likely the majority of genetic variation present were sequenced with 850,000 allele calls per sample; complemented by other 1000 accessions where bulk samples were analysed with 10,000 allele calls each.