FIGS – the Focused Identification of Germplasm Strategy ― is a new technique for searching agricultural genebanks. It allows gene bank managers and agricultural researchers worldwide to screen large plant collections of plant genetic resources collections more rapidly and accurately than was previously possible using traditional methods. This helps improve the effectiveness of crop improvement programs.
The world’s agricultural genebanks hold more than 7.5 million accessions of crops and their wild relatives – a valuable source of novel genes that can improve drought tolerance, disease resistance, and other traits. But the sheer number of accessions makes it difficult for breeders to identify those that might have useful traits.
FIGS combines agro-ecological information with data on plant traits and characteristics to narrow down the search – identifying sets of plant genotypes with a higher probability of containing specific ‘target’ traits.
ICARDA is helping encourage use of FIGS by providing training, online consultations, and discussion boards.