Global interdependence for fruit genetic resources: status and challenges in India.
Sharing and exchange of germplasm within and beyond national boundaries generates opportunities to enrich the plant wealth of a country. India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. An analysis of the status of inflow and outflow of fruit germplasm in India was carried out to determine the extent of Indian national interdependence. The goal of this article is to promote the use of fruit genetic resources in crop improvement programmes. Our objectives are (i) to trace the history of domestication or introduction of important fruit crops in India and their subsequent adoption/ diffusion; (ii) to review the usage of exotic germplasm in India as well as Indian germplasm around the world; (iii) to discuss the important agreements/ actions to regulate international exchange of germplasm; (iv) to describe and analyse constraints in global exchange of germplasm; (v) to discuss the ways to strengthen international exchange and enhance utilisation of fruit germplasm. Methods used included retrieval of databases, literature review, communication with key informants, and crop pedigree analysis. India has been exchanging foreign germplasm since time immemorial but till late eighties, the germplasm flow was largely unregulated. Since the early nineties, a mechanism for import was in place. However, formal exchange was initiated in 1976 with the establishment of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBPGR). Till date, ICAR-NBPGR has imported 9,684 accessions of fruit crops from over 40 countries. Using exotic germplasm, India has formally released over 100 varieties of fruit crops. Indian germplasm has also been utilised in international breeding of new cultivars or rootstocks, particularly in mango, citrus and banana. The development of Floridian mangoes in the USA, the use of Indian citrus rootstocks worldwide, and the use of Indian banana genotypes are classical examples of the international utilisation of Indian fruit germplasm. The regulated exchange of germplasm after the Convention on Biological Diversity plays a critical role in the sharing of germplasm worldwide.