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Gathering and sharing information about our agricultural biodiversity is vital to its conservation and use, for farmers, scientists, conservationists and breeders.

Bioversity International works to assist countries improve their capacity to describe, store, manage and share information about their plant resources, whether stored in genebanks or growing in their natural environments.

One important aspect of our work is developing standards for documentation and protocols to enable information sharing such as our Descriptor Lists and Derived Standards. To facilitate the international exchange and use of plant resources, uniformity in data description, collection and record-keeping is critical.

Descriptors are the basis of major information platforms such as GENESYS and EURISCO, and also the FAO World Information and Early Warning System. They are also an important tool to enable information sharing for crops covered under ANNEX 1 of the International Treaty of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Bioversity International, in collaboration with international partners, has developed six types of descriptors:

Crop Descriptors

Provide an international format and a universally understood language for plant genetic resources data. They are targeted at farmers, curators, breeders, scientists and users and facilitate the exchange and use of resources. Information includes such details as the plant's height, flowering patterns and ancestral history. Read more

FAO/Bioversity International Multi-crop Passport Descriptors

Originally published in 2001, the ‘Multi-Crop Passport Descriptors’ is widely used as the international standard to facilitate germplasm passport information exchange. Now expanded to include emerging documentation needs, this new version resulted from consultation with more than 300 scientists from 187 institutions in 87 countries. Read more

Descriptors for Genetic Marker Technologies

A tool for researchers to generate and exchange genetic marker data that are standardized and replicable. They represent the minimum set of descriptors needed to describe a marker technology used with a particular plant species. Read more

Key access and utilization descriptors for crop genetic resources

Initial sets of characterization and evaluation descriptors for crop genetic resources. These descriptors will become the basis for the information portal being developed by Bioversity to facilitate access and use of plant samples (accessions) held in genebanks. Read more

Descriptors for farmers' knowledge of plants

The first attempt to capture and share information between farmers and scientists, integrating biology with traditional knowledge. Read more

Core descriptors for in situ conservation of crop wild relatives

These core Crop Wild Relatives descriptors are designed to facilitate the compilation and exchange of in situ conservation data, which are needed to develop and implement in situ conservation activities. Read more