Grapevine foundation resources help to secure the long-term competitiveness and sustainability of the Australian wine sector through the health, quality and integrity of its vineyards. Several attempts have been made to develop a solution to the management of Australia's grapevine germplasm collections, but these have not succeeded due to various factors, including lack of national industry leadership. The CSIRO and SARDI collections have remained closed to industry since 2009, and we risk loss or significant deterioration of foundation germplasm assets if we continue to do nothing. A discussion paper was commissioned to build on previous work to set out a framework for the future management of the wine sector's germplasm resources.
The discussion paper was structured around five deliverables, with wine sector consultation at all stages of the project:
- Review existing reports funded by Wine Australia/GWRDC and others on germplasm collections.
- Review the current germplasms; strengths/weaknesses.
- Define why we need a National Germplasm Collection and what role it will play for wine sector stakeholders.
- Construct a technical (biosecurity and risk), environmental (soil and climate) and practical (resources) framework to define what a suitable site/system might look like and where collections might be best located.
- Identify and expand on the support mechanisms required for the implementation and management of a National Germplasm Collection (administrative, propagation, planting protocols, virus testing and removal, vineyard development, vineyard management and biosecurity protocols).
Summary of Key Findings
- The management of germplasm should be guided by the following principles (adapted from Calles et al., 2009; Reed et al., 2004):
- Ensuring security
- Ensuring availability
- Maintaining genetic integrity and diversity
- Providing information
- Acquisition and introduction of new accessions
- Different crop-industries have different levels of complexity within their germplasm systems depending on the prescribed purpose of their system. The common theme between the industries is that they have alignment between their objectives, the assets/resources and the functions associated with that asset or resource.
- There are significant existing germplasm assets in Australia which comprise physical, organisational and intellectual assets. Many of the assets and resources were developed with industry funding. Centralised coordination of these assets and resources is vital to a national approach to germplasm management.
- Sector consultation identified that the role of the National Germplasm Collection is to protect grapevine genetics, facilitate the supply of healthy and true-to type planting material and support enabling activities that supplement the collection.
- Australia’s ‘National Grapevine Germplasm’ should be referred to as the ‘National Grapevine Collection’ (NGC).
- The National Grapevine Collection should be considered as a system of coordinated assets and resources that are aligned to fulfil specific functions associated with the National Grapevine Collection objectives.
- Conduct discussions with collection stakeholders to address industry access to material and long-term security of the collections.
- The appointment of a National Grapevine Collection coordinator and technical committee whose primary role is to implement the strategic framework.
- The implementation of the grapevine certified standard for propagation material which will lay the groundwork for the conditions under which the collections in the National Grapevine Collection will be established and managed.
- The funding of essential research on the methodologies for virus surveillance of collections and source blocks identified by SAVIA in its report: Protecting the high-health status of Australia’s grapevine propagation assets: A business case for developing a science and standards-based management system’,
- SAVIA has been identified as the organisation that is currently best suited to become the Licensed Entity for the CSIRO collection. It is recommended that discussions with SAVIA are initiated to identify the support mechanisms required (by SAVIA) to fulfil this important role.