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Hidden in the Seeds

There are millions of seeds housed in repositories around the world, and the DivSeek initiative aims to capitalize on the diversity of these seeds to develop better crops, ScienceInsider reports.

The DivSeek consortium brings together some 70 institutions from around the world with plans to characterize the genetic, physical, and biochemical characteristics of the seeds in search of traits like drought tolerance and pest resistance that could be used to improve current crops.

"We saw what was happening in other sectors, such as personalized medicine, and knew gene banks could accomplish a lot, a lot faster and more efficiently, if only we could get the right people together," Hannes Dempewolf from the Global Crop Diversity Trust tells ScienceInsider.

The first step for DivSeek, ScienceInsider says, is for the group to come up with a set of standards and methods for the participants to use to generate and share data on the seeds. It also has to figure out how to mesh the various interests of crop breeders, seed companies, researchers, and funding agencies.

ScienceInsider adds that the cost of the initiative and how it will be paid for is not yet clear.