Fruit for the Future

Orchard National Fruit Collections Trust Kent

Conservation and utilisation of genetic resources to support fruit production into the future

Defra’s National Fruit Collection at Brogdale is one of the largest collections of fruit crops in the world and is recognised both within the UK and internationally as a highly valuable genetic resource. The University of Reading and Farm Advisory Services Team aim to increase the utility and security of the collection, developing it as a resource for use in future research and breeding.

Conserving genetic diversity

Plant genetic resources enable crops to be adapted in the face of increasing pressures from pests and diseases, changing market requirements, and the uncertainties posed by global climate change, whilst addressing the increasing need for environmental responsibility.Conservation of genetic diversity is a core component of managing the National Fruit Collection, with activities such as cryopreservation providing additional long-term security to the collection. However, utilisation of the available material is a key element in the continued development of the collection and is an aspect that we aim to further promote.

Increasing utility

The collections contain over 3,500 accessions (samples) of different fruit varieties and form part of the UK’s contribution towards an international effort to protect, characterise and make available plant genetic resources for crop improvement. Accessions are freely available for research and breeding, and several components of our work are aimed at improving the utility of the material, such as genetic analysis and providing public access to information.In order to support the continued breeding efforts required to address food security challenges, we are developing the collection as a dynamic entity that will:

  • represent the diversity within each crop species;
  • include varieties of historic and current importance to the UK;
  • incorporate accessions containing important characters, for example disease resistance and fruit quality.
National Fruit Collections Trust