Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, Bern

New challenges to digitization of genetic resources for food and agriculture

A comprehensive stewardship of genetic resources is necessary to insure a resilient and sustainable agriculture. Most of our food comes from a handful of domesticated species which diversity is constantly shrinking. On the contrary, modern genomics keep discovering the marvels of diversity contained in genetic resources for food and agriculture. High-throughput sequencing and related techniques bring genetic resources field into the «Big Data» era, as for astronomy or informatics. Parallel development of modern selection methods, as well as synthetic biology are intimately linked to the good and comprehensive understanding of genetic diversity. The genomic data burst observed raises new challenges for governance of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Digital genetic resources made freely accessible and dematerialised may put into question longstanding definition of genetic resources concept. Here, we provide an update of the current discussion about (digital) genetic resources in Switzerland and in the rest of the world. We suggest possible ways forward to insure that Agriculture Research also, makes its digital revolution.

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