Crop genetic resources conservation and use expert Stephen Kresovich has been elected Chair of the DivSeek International Network Inc. Board of Directors, a global community of practice that seeks to share information about global plant genetic resources.

DivSeek is a not-for-profit representing leading researchers and practitioners drawn from a broad base of over 70 academic and research institutions, government agencies, and inter-governmental organizations from over 30 different countries. Its mission is to access and harness expertise, scientific evidence, technologies and global best practices to manage, characterize and share information about plant genetic resources conservation and use.  

Expansion of the DivSeek network has catalyzed an increased awareness that harnessing plant biodiversity will be foundational to addressing global challenges including resource limitations and impact of agriculture, nutritional food security, climate adaptation, and transitioning to a bio-based economy.

As an elected member of the DivSeek Board of Directors since May 2021, Kresovich brings a lifetime of experience in conservation genetics and research supporting crop genetic improvement. This includes directing major U.S. plant genebank programs and serving as a member of the U.S. National Genetic Resources Advisory Council. He currently serves as director of the Cornell University Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement and the Clemson University Advanced Plant Technology Program. These programs aim to advance plant breeding tools, technologies, and methods to deliver staple crop varieties that can increase yield and stability, enhance nutrition, and show greater resistance to pests and diseases in the U.S. and around the globe.

As DivSeek Chair he succeeds Steve Visscher, formerly of the Global Institute for Food Security in Saskatoon, Canada, who as a director since 2019 made major contributions to the recent development of DivSeek, including to its Strategic Plan 2021-26.

“I’m excited to lead the DivSeek effort and support the global networks responsible for effective conservation and use of crop genetic resources,” said Kresovich, professor in Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science and Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Chair of Genetics in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Clemson University.

“We’re at a critical juncture of time when climate change and genetic erosion of plant diversity challenge our society’s resilience. With other key global partners, DivSeek can play a valuable role addressing these growing pressures”.

DivSeek recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Treaty of Plants for Food and Agriculture that will see both parties working toward a common goal: improving the interoperability of crop germplasm information systems on a global scale and promoting benefit-sharing with developing country institutions.

As Chair, Kresovich will work closely with other board members and DivSeek’s Executive Director, Professor Graham King, who coordinates and implements the DivSeek strategic program and day to day activities. Graham is based in Australia and has extensive experience leading crop genomics, trait biology and informatics R&D.

“I am delighted at the prospect of working with Stephen Kresovich to move our initiatives forward and realise the full potential of plant genetic resources,” said King.

DivSeek International Network Inc is a not-for-profit registered in Canada. The Global Institute for Food Security based in Saskatoon hosts DivSeek, with funding support from Genome Canada and Genome Prairie.