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Commonwealth Potato Collection to make first UK deposit in Global Seed Vault

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham visits the CPC (c) Hutton Institute
"Protecting these seeds in the Vault ensures that the Commonwealth Potato Collection will be available for future potato breeders to cope with challenges which may arise as a result of climate change and will help maintain both Scotland’s economy and global food security."

The Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), an invaluable repository of potato germplasm held in trust by the James Hutton Institute with support from the Scottish Government, is set to make the first deposit of plant genetic material by a UK institution into the Global Seed Vault, in accordance with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Situated inside a sandstone mountain on the island of Spitsbergen, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard is the world’s largest collection of crop diversity and constitutes a fail-safe seed storage facility built to stand the test of time and protect invaluable genetic resources from possible future catastrophic global environmental events.

The CPC was established in the late 1930s by British botanists and collectors, and the James Hutton Institute is responsible for its curation and maintenance. The CPC deposit will constitute the first UK deposit in the Global Seed Vault as confirmed by the Crop Trust, who manages the Svalbard facility.

The purpose of the CPC is to safeguard the genetic diversity of lodged material and make it available to researchers and breeders, and the efficient conservation and utilisation of resources such as this are critical for safeguarding food security both now and in the future.

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, said: “I am delighted to be here to see the first seed deposits from any UK institute being sent to the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard. 

“The contribution of seeds from Scotland’s Commonwealth Potato Collection underlines the global importance of the science undertaken at the James Hutton Institute and our commitment to protecting our plant collections. Protecting these seeds in the Vault ensures that the Commonwealth Potato Collection will be available for future potato breeders to cope with challenges which may arise as a result of climate change and will help maintain both Scotland’s economy and global food security.”

Professor Colin Campbell, Chief Executive of the James Hutton Institute, commented: “We at the James Hutton Institute are honoured to host the Commonwealth Potato Collection. I would like to congratulate current and past members of the CPC team for their conscientious and painstaking work in maintaining this priceless resource for future generations.

“The efforts of early pioneers and subsequent plant scientists in establishing and maintaining the CPC have become even more precious, given that new predictions estimate a global population of 11 billion by 2100, and the importance of potato as a key staple food crop in many regions of the world.

“By consigning CPC genetic material into the Global Seed Vault, we hope to preserve these valuable genetic resources for generations to come.”

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have used the germplasm contained in the CPC to address challenges to potato growers and breed well-known varieties such as Lady Balfour, Vales Sovereign and Mayan Gold.

Dr Glenn Bryan, research group leader at the Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences, said:  “The CPC forms a vital component of our research and breeding at the Hutton. It is a potent source of genes against new disease threats as well as against the effects of climate change.”

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).


Printed from /news/commonwealth-potato-collection-make-first-uk-deposit-global-seed-vault-0 on 24/08/19 07:40:45 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.