Today, the production of more food for a larger population in more divergent environments must be accomplished for human welfare. This can be done by developing more productive varieties of crops through current scientific techniques utilizing existing plant germplasms.
Thus the collection and conservation of plant germplasms has been recognized to be indispensable for plant genetics and plant breeding. Wheat is one of the most important cereal crops and provide staple food for one thirds of the world population. Kyoto University has a long history of wheat studies and of field collection of landraces and wild relatives and has provided an important reservoir of genetic stocks of wheat.
Since Professor H. Kihara started his genetic studies of wheat at Kyoto University in 1921, many experimental stocks of wheat and its relatives have accumulated at the Laboratory of Genetics, Faculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University.
Until 1958, these materials were maintained at the Laboratory of Genetics and from 1959 to 1970 at the Research Institute for Agricultural Plants in collaboration with the Laboratory of Genetics. The field collection of wild relatives and landraces of wheat was started in 1955 when Kyoto University organized the Kyoto University Scientific Expedition to Karakoram and Hindukush.
These materials have been used widely by wheat geneticists and plant breeders and have contributed greatly to the progress of wheat studies in Japan and other countries throughout the world. When the Plant Germ-plasm Institute (PGPI) was established in 1971 to study the origin of cultivated plants and to explore and conserve useful plant germplasms, these genetic stocks of wheat were transferred to the Laboratory of Crop Evolution of the Institute from the Laboratory of Genetics. In addition to conserving these materials, the Laboratory of Crop Evolution has endeavored to collect new samples.
The Institute has also served as one of the two base collections of wild relatives of wheat by appointment of the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR, now IPGRI) together with ICARDA gene bank.
The first germplasm catalogue of Aegilops and Triticum edited by Dr. M. Tanaka was published in 1983 to assure worldwide utilization of these genetic stocks (Tanaka 1983).
Most of the wheat genetic stocks maintained at the PGPI are from original field collections. Many collecting missions have been organized by Kyoto University during 1955 - 1996.
After 1983, many Aegilops samples collected by IBPGR were introduced.
In the present catalogue, No. 3, about 10,000 strains of wheat landraces, wild wheat and wild relatives, Aegilops , currently maintained in the PGPI are listed.
This information is also accessible through Internet via KOMUGI DB (http://shigen.nig.ac.jp/wheat/komugi), the wheat genetics resources database in Japan.
It is now more important than ever that we start to collaborate to integrate the world's wheat germplasm.
Networking of gene banks worldwide will facilitate the use of these genetic stocks by wheat researchers and breeders throughout the world.