In a step towards preserve the wealth of its national animal and plant populations, Qatar will be setting up a gene bank of local species. Dr. Sheikh Faleh bin Nasser Al Thani, the Director General for Research and Agricultural Development of Qatar’s Environmental Ministry, said that “Qatar has a precious legacy of flora and fauna that must be preserved and handed over to future generations. Conservin the genetic characteristics isa must; if we lose them, then it is forever.”
Before any “deposits” are made, though, the Biotechnology Center at the Ministry of the Environment recently held a workshop explaining the role of gene banks and the mechanisms and methods of collection, conservation, and classification of animal and plant genetic materials.
Since many varieties of plants have been improved with science over the years, the traditional strains often tend to fall into disuse and are in danger of becoming endangered or extinct. “It is the need of the hour to ensure the continued existence of these varieties to ensure our own existence. Also these are the basic materials upon which the local communities and researchers look to improve food production, quality and quantity. Hence the conservation of the basic gene pool is needed,” Dr. bin Nasser Al Thani said.
Setting up the gene bank will also help maintain genetic diversity, which is critical in light of potential climate change. The greater the diversity of an eco-system, the more chances or options it has to respond to changing conditions and challenges.
Professor Issam Saif El Naser, of the Egyptian National Gene Bank, said that “eco-diversity plays a strategic role in maintaining the economy of a nation. Proper management in a scientific way is a means of preserving the diversity, which implies the need to have development strategies and plans to follow up to prevent extinction.”
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