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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

From PLOS Biology: Where Have All the Crop Phenotypes Gone?

PLOS_bioCross-posted from AgTrials Blog

AgTrials colleagues may be interested in this article on crop phenotyping from the Journal PLOS Biology.

As I read this, I thought about many of the similar issues that our AgTrials community has faced in the development of our initiative. Most importantly, Prof. Zamir’s point about losing phenotyping data is highly relevant. Much of this loss of data is due to a under-appreciation by data developers regarding how useful it might be to the larger crop improvement community. Another point made in the opinion piece was the importance of linking crop phenotype data to crop ontologies, something that AgTrials accomplishes through our dynamic link with the CropOntology initiative. Another important point made by Prof. Zamir is the potential of linking crop phenotyping to genetic resources databases. Together with our colleagues at Bioversity, we have started to make some of these links. One example is linking our cultivar names with their corresponding records in gene banks, something we have prototyped with cassava. The PLOS Biology article points to a very interesting resource for scientists called DRYAD, where you can find data sets linked to scientific publications in biology and ecology. I surfed around that site and found some very interesting content. Unfortunately they do not seem to have much in terms of crop evaluation trials on agricultural experiment stations. They seem to have much more data from genotyping.

Developing the kinds of resources that Prof. Zamir advocates in his opinion piece will require much greater investments by the international crop improvement community. The private sector in advanced industrialized countries have been making these investments. More effort is needed by the public sector in tropical countries to develop these types of resources.

(Thanks to Kai Sonder for alerting me to this article).


Zamir D (2013) Where Have All the Crop Phenotypes Gone? PLoS Biol 11(6): e1001595. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001595

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