The Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), an invaluable repository of potato germplasm held in trust by the James Hutton Institute with support from the Scottish Government, is set to make the first deposit of plant genetic material by a UK institution into the Global Seed Vault, in accordance with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Situated inside a sandstone mountain on the island of Spitsbergen, halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard is the world’s largest collection of crop diversity and constitutes a fail-safe seed storage facility built to stand the test of time and protect invaluable genetic resources from possible future catastrophic global environmental events.
The CPC was established in the late 1930s by British botanists and collectors, and the James Hutton Institute is responsible for its curation and maintenance. The CPC deposit will constitute the first UK deposit in the Global Seed Vault as confirmed by the Crop Trust, who manages the Svalbard facility.
The purpose of the CPC is to safeguard the genetic diversity of lodged material and make it available to researchers and breeders, and the efficient conservation and utilisation of resources such as this are critical for safeguarding food security both now and in the future.
Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have used the germplasm contained in the CPC to address challenges to potato growers and breed well-known varieties such as Lady Balfour, Vales Sovereign and Mayan Gold.