Characterization and Evaluation

Germplasm characterization and evaluation

Germplasm accessions are characterized and evaluated for a set of internationally recognized descriptors. ICRISAT in collaboration with Bioversity International (BI), formerly IPGRI, developed crop specific descriptors for characterization and preliminary evaluation of germplasm (IBPGR, 1983a,b; IBPGR, 1985a,b,c; IBPGR and ICRISAT, 1992a,b; IBPGR and ICRISAT, 1993a,b; IBPGR, ICRISAT, and ICARDA, 1993). These include stable botanical (qualitative) characters and a few agronomic including biotic and abiotic stresses and grain quality traits. Examples of some major identifiable traits are early seedling vigor, number of days needed to flower and mature, plant height, stem thickness, tillering, leaf size, number of seeds per pod, seed size and color, and grain yield.

Germplasm accessions are screened by multidisciplinary teams of ICRISAT and NARS scientists. These teams assess the potential and usefulness of germplasm lines for specific circumstances. Typically, these include abiotic stress tolerance, disease and pest resistance, and quality characteristics. After several years of detailed scientific evaluation and screening, new genetic stocks were identified for use in crop improvement as new sources of breeding material for desirable characteristics. Germplasm sets (mini core collections) were evaluated for agronomic performance over locations jointly with NARS scientists in 36 countries. The results of joint evaluations have led NARS scientists to better understanding of the germplasm conserved in the ICRISAT genebank. The genebank has also initiated evaluating small millets for important abiotic and biotic stresses and seed nutritional traits for effective utilization towards enhancing the value of these genetic resources in small millets improvement.

Hundreds of genetic stocks have already been identified and are being used by ICRISAT and NARS scientists throughout the world. Through participation in such evaluation-identification exercises, many national program scientists have been trained in germplasm characterization. This gives them the skill to identify new genetic stocks and enhances their ability to manage germplasm in their national crop improvement programs.

For more information
Crop descriptors