AGENT aims to transform genebanks from living archives into bio-digital resources centers, equipped to meet the needs of a changing world
The AGENT project aims to establish a network of European (and international) genebanks and converting these from passive seed repositories into active bio-digital resource centres, i.e. the ‘activated genebank network (AGENT)’. Part of their material will be purified and complemented with dense genotypic information (‘precision collections’) and an approach defined for the systematic, coordinated, standardized and sustainable accumulation of phenotype information. The objectives of the project will be exemplified using barley and wheat, two of the most important crops both in Europe and at an international level. Concepts and protocols established for these species can be easily transferred to datasets existing for other crop Genetic Resources (GenRes) collections, thus generating impact for holdings of many crop species far beyond the project boundaries.
This project aspires to create a network of fifteen genebanks and four genebank genomic centers to work on barley and wheat for (i) establishing a European (global) crop genomic diversity atlas, (ii) activating currently inaccessible legacy phenotypic data, (iii) implementing a novel concept of concerted accumulation of phenologic and agronomic data for individual plant Genetic Resources (GenRes) collections to establish training population datasets for the genome-wide prediction of GenRes accessions. These activities will be supported by a bioinformatics network that will implement FAIR data principles, standards, protocols, and data formats enabling data storage, access, use, and re-use, extending the existing EURISCO GenRes portal for new data types. AGENT will use existing solutions established by ongoing European projects and international initiatives, but also develop new tools for novel functionality of data access, visualisation, and use. A coordinated testing network is another unique layer of AGENT, directly involving stakeholders (e.g. farmer cooperatives, breeding companies, NGOs) in monitoring, mentoring, capacity building and training in the development of workflows and tools. Thus, AGENT project results will be directly disseminated to genebanks, researchers, breeders, policy makers and the general public and raise awareness of the general as well as the specific societal importance of GenRes.