At present, loss of specific species, groups of species (extinction) or decrease in number of particular organisms (endangerment) are taking place in different parts of the world at a rapid pace. These losses are often manifestations of degradation or destruction in the ecosystem or habitat.
More plant conservationists are turning to DNA technologies to have effective conservation strategies. The DNA bank is an efficient, simple and long-term method used in conserving genetic resource for biodiversity. Compared to traditional seed or field gene banks, DNA banks lessen the risk of exposing genetic information in natural surroundings. It only requires small sample size for storage and keeps the stable nature of DNA in cold storage. Since whole plants cannot be obtained from DNA, the stored genetic material must be introduced through genetic techniques.
Biotech for Evaluating Genetic Diversity
Germplasm refers to living tissues from which new plants can form. It can be a whole plant, or part of a plant such as leaf, stem, pollen, or even just a number of cells. A germplasm holds information on the genetic makeup of the species. Scientists evaluate the diversity of plant germplasm to find ways on how to develop new better yielding and high quality varieties that can resist diseases, constantly evolving pests, and environmental stresses. Germplasm evaluation involves screening of germplasm in terms of physical, genetic, economic, biochemical, physiological, pathological, and entomological attributes.
Biotech for Biodiversity Utilization
Most cultivated plant species have lost their inherent traits that came from their wild ancestors. These traits include resistance to harsh environmental conditions, adaptation to various soil and climate conditions, and resistance to pests and pathogens. To utilize these important traits in cultivated varieties, scientists search for the genes that confer such important traits. They use conventional and modern biotechnology to create improved genetic variations of crops.