German Conference on Bioinformatics 2009, 2009-09-29
Centrum voor Genetische Bronnen Nederland
The world is facing a ‘perfect storm’ and we need to be prepared. The increasing shortages of food, water and fuel in a changing climate will create huge human suffering, conflicts and migration if they are not properly tackled within the next two decades. This will require a large mobilization of funds and human capacity, in which scientists will play a very important role. The ‘Next Green Revolution’ that will be needed amongst many other things to feed the growing world population will be driven by genomics. The rapidly developing genomic knowledge and analytical capacity will allow us improve crop varieties in a much more targeted way allowing them to grow where they could not grow before, yield more and require less inputs. Bioinformatics will, obviously, play a vital role in this process. This role is at the level of generating knowledge about the function of the genome, unraveling genomic pathways, but more importantly at the level of identifying useful diversity, genes and alleles, and transferring these rapidly into adapted varieties. Diversity analysis, allele mining and marker assisted breeding support plant breeders in doing what they have always done, make better varieties. But with the support of the proper bioinformatics, it will have a much larger domain in terms of the genetic diversity that can act as source of genes and alleles, and it will have a much higher speed, allowing very rapid introgression of desired genes in desired backgrounds. The experiences of the Generation Challenge Programme, an international program working in this area, will be used as source of examples.
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