Plant Gene Resources of Canada

View the video about this essential service for plant breeders and visit the Plant Genetic Resources of Canada for more information. Get informed about similar resources for other crops. There is the Canadian Clonal Genebank at the Harrow Research and Development Centre (the primary germplasm repository for fruit tree and small fruit crops), and the Canadian Potato Genetic Resources at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre.

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Video Transcript

[An image and a maple leaf appear on screen. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light, piano music fades in.]

Text on screen: Plant Gene Resources of Canada: Our Investment in Biodiversity and Sustainability

[The video opens with a panning close up of red and green peppers.]

Curator Axel Diederichsen: Agriculture is not a static thing...

[Cut to shot of wheat field.]

...it's a living thing it needs...

[Cut to close up of camelina pant.]

...steadily to adapt to changes...

[Close up of bee pollinating camelina plant.]

...it can be changes of the environment...

[Cut to medium close up of Curator Axel Diederichsen talking in office.]

...changes in the production system new pests arrive, new diseases arrive, and in order to have this plasticity in agriculture...

[Cut to close up of wheat field.]

...you need genetic diversity.

[Panning shot of inside Plant Gene Resources of Canada's seed bank.]

This is the national Canadian gene bank for plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

[Cut back to medium close up of Diederichsen talking in office.]

Text on screen: Axel Diederichsen Curator/Research Scientist, Biodiversity and Collections Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

You could compare a gene bank to a library. Huge collection also of information, but what we have in our collection is germ plasm, viable germ plasm.

[Diagonal wide shot of germ plasm rolled out on table.]

...Germ plasm is material from which you can...

[Close up of germ plasm rolled out.]

...regenerate a whole plant. The most common thing is seeds...

[High angle shot of varying assorted seeds in bags.]

...and most...

[Close up of scooping seeds out of container.]

...of the germ plasm we preserve at the Canadian...

[Close up of researcher placing seeds in a measuring cup in lab.]

...gene bank is in the form of seeds.

[Cut back to medium close up of Diederichsen talking in office.]

We preserve here about 115,000...

[Cut to wide shot of researcher walking through aisles of national Canadian gene bank.]

...accessions of germ plasm.

[Medium close up of researcher collecting gene accessions from gene bank aisle.]

Accession is a technical term; it basically means an envelope with seeds...

[Close up of researcher collecting gene accessions.]

...that contains material seeds that are distinct from seeds in another envelope.

[Close up of accessions organized on shelf.]

[Diagonal close up of serial number on specimen package.]

For example in oat we have...

[Cut back to medium shot of Diederichsen talking in office.]

...28,000 accessions of oats, that means 28,000 samples and each sample is different from another sample.

[Tilt close up of oat crops in green house.]

Farmers are in need of adapting...

[Cut to plants labelled with blue and red ribbon.]

...to changes, finding new opportunities...

[Cut to medium close up of Diederichsen analyzing red labelled plant through a magnifying glass.]

... economic opportunities, new crops, new usages and...

[Cut back to medium shot of Diederichsen talking in office.]

...gene banks feed into that by allowing and abling plant breeders to produce these cultivars...

[Cut to mid shot of Diederichsen talking to people and pointing to blue labelled camelina plant in greenhouse.]

...or to introduce these new traits that are very important for the agricultural industry.

[Cut to medium close up side angle of plant breeder Christina Eynck in greenhouse talking.]

Plant breeder Christina Eynck: One of the key elements of a breeding program and its success is really genetic diversity.

Text on screen: Christina Eynck, Plant Breeder, Linnaeus Plant Sciences Inc.

[Medium close up of blue labelled camelina plant.]

The gene banks really play a crucial role.

[Close up of camelina plant.]

At some point camelina was really an almost forgotten crop...

[Cut back to medium close up side angle of Christina Eynck in greenhouse talking.]

...and if it was not for PGRC here in Canada...

[Close up of camelina accessions.]

...and other gene banks worldwide who...

[Cut to medium close up of camelina accessions.]

...collected all the different camelina material and stored them...

[High angle close up of orange envelope labelled sativa camelina.]

...breeders like me would not have really any material to work with...

[Cut back to medium close up side angle of Christina Eynck in greenhouse talking.]

...we wouldn't have any access to genetic diversity.

[Medium close up of germ plasm envelope being scanned and opened beside scale.]

Axel Diederichsen: So the plant breeders can write to us and they request germ plasm.

[Cut to high angle shot of spooning out germ plasm into dish in lab beside scale.]

They will receive a small envelope...

[Cut to medium close up of germ plasm being placed on scale in lab.]

...of seeds...

[Cut back to high angle of researcher inputting settings into scale with seeds.]

...or plant material...

[Cut back to medium close up of seeds being taken off scale and placed back in envelope in lab.]

...so that they have diverse material to start with...

[Cut back to high angle of placing seeds in bag.]

...to investigate or to utilize.

[Cut to over the shoulder shot of research assistant Dallas Kessler filing envelopes of germ plasm at his desk in front of a scale and monitor.]

Research assistant Dallas Kessler: A requirement for distribution...

[Cut to medium close up of Dallas Kessler addressing camera.]

Text on screen: Dallas Kessler Research Assistant, Biodiversity and Collections Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

...is that the purpose of the seeds is for research or education.

[Tilting close up shot of wheat field.]

Within Canada our wheat accessions are the most sought after...

[Cut to wide shot of tractor in field.]

...internationally our oat, barley, brassica...


[Close up of tractor in field.]

...and flax are the most frequently requested.

[Cut to medium shot of Diederichsen talking in office.]

Axel Diederichsen: The diversity of crop plants is man-made diversity, and if we don't preserve it, it will be lost, more or less instantly...

[Cut to wide shot of oncoming combine in field.]

...it's a cultural heritage...

[Tilt shot of wheat field.]

...that has grown...

[High angle zoom of camelina field.]

...over 10,000 years...

[Cut back to medium shot of Diederichsen talking in office.]

...and this diversity and this cultural heritage goes physically through our hands in the gene bank. That's very fascinating.

[Cut to medium close up of Dallas Kessler addressing camera.]

Dallas Kessler: I like to think...

[Cut back to medium shot of Diederichsen smiling in office.]

...that we're making a contribution to global agriculture...

[Cut to mother setting spaghetti on table in domestic kitchen with daughter pouring juice.]

...and hopefully that makes food more accessible...

[Cut to mid shot of mother distributing spaghetti onto a plate in kitchen.]

...to people everywhere.

[Fade to white.]

[Fade up from white.]

[Cut to tile photos of gene plasm and camelina plants on bottom of white screen.]

Text on screen: Modern. Innovative. Growing. Discover other agricultural innovations at www.agr.gc.ca.

[Light, piano music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, ©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2015).

[Fade to black.]

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