About EVA

The EVA Network

The ECPGR EVA network was established in 2019 to bring together diverse stakeholders of plant genetic resource for food and agriculture (PGRFA) in Europe, jointly improving our knowledge of the diversity of genetic plant material held in European genebanks and making them accessible for use in breeding and research. EVA is of strategic importance for Europe and provides an opportunity to promote the sustainable use of PGRFA to facilitate the adaptation of European agriculture to climate change and to contribute towards achieving related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Inter alia, EVA aims to:

  1. Promote the establishment of European Private Public Partnerships to carry out targeted evaluation of PGRFA
  2. Promote and improve the digitization, harmonization, availability and exchange of existing and newly generated evaluation data of PGRFA
  3. Improve the evaluation of PGRFA through coordinated and collaborative efforts, using harmonized methods and standard protocols and the development of best practices, guidelines and tools

In collaborative projects involving public and private sector partners and through participatory plant breeding actions EVA is generating standardized evaluation data (both phenotypic and genotypic data) for numerous crop accessions and landraces available in European genebanks. Currently, EVA is implemented through six crop-specific networks, covering both cereal and vegetable crops.

All activities within the EVA networks are intended at the pre-competitive stage, to increase our knowledge about valuable traits of publicly available crop germplasm, with a view to introducing these into public and private breeding programmes. Evaluation data from different environments across the continent will also aid in identifying adapted accessions for breeding climate-resilient crops.

For more information or if you are interested in joining the EVA networks, please contact EVA coordinator Sandra Goritschnig

During the 2018 ECPGR Steering Committee meeting in Thessaloniki, Greece, the framework for the establishment of a European Evaluation Network was approved, launching the implementation of the EVA projects.

A Memorandum of Understanding for enhanced collaboration between the European Seed Association (ESA - now EUROSEEDS ) and ECPGR was also agreed for signature. In this MoU, Euroseeds and ECPGR agree to use their networks in a beneficial collaboration to promote the evaluation of PGR across Europe, supporting the European Evaluation Networks.

During the 2023 End-of-phase meeting of the ECPGR Steering Committee in Oeiras, Portugal, the EVA approach was incorporated into the regular ECPGR work programme as a priority action. As such, project coordination and support for data management within the project database EURISCO-EVA are guaranteed, allowing EVA networks to continue their operations based mainly on in-kind contributions towards activities.

The EVA projects

    Following up on the establishment of the European PGRFA Evaluation Network EVA by the Steering Committee, the ECPGR Secretariat submitted a successful proposal to Germany for funding of a project to kick-start the EVA networks on wheat and barley and vegetables (carrot, lettuce and pepper) for three years (2019-2022), which has been extended until the end of 2024 with additional funding (see below).

    For field crops (wheat, barley) a different batch of European genebank accessions are multiplied each year and then evaluated in multiple locations for disease resistance and other traits. Vegetable networks work on defined sets of accessions, for which extensive data on agronomical, biotic and abiotic stress traits are collected. All accessions will be genotyped. All data will be provided to EURISCO and made widely available after an embargo period, to incentivize the collaboration of private breeders.

    Right from the project's start in July 2019, several private breeding companies and public research institutions have agreed to participate in the crop-specific networks, but additional partners are welcome. Find all organizations participating in EVA on the various network pages.

    In December 2019, during the first meeting of the newly established ECPGR Maize Working Group, a proposal for an extension of the project to include a crop-specific network for Maize was prepared and subsequently granted by the donor. This extension enabled the newly formed Working Group on Maize to add value to European maize genetic resources within an appropriate framework of public/private partnerships, with the adoption of common standards, use of EURISCO and strengthening of the AEGIS collection. In practice, during the project duration, a total of 600 European genebank accessions of maize will be genotyped and evaluated for biotic and abiotic stresses in multilocation experiments. 

    A no-cost extension to compensate for delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as recent amendments providing additional funds for in-depth data analysis, coordination and communication on the project allows the project to run until December 2024, producing tangible results that can be exploited by public and private partners in breeding and scientific publications.  

    In 2023, additional budget was approved for previously unplanned activities and to support data management, allowing the networks to effectively use the longer project duration. This request also included funds to organize a project meeting of ForEVA to establish a new EVA Legumes network, enhancing the impact of the current project.

    In 2023, the ECPGR Grain Legumes Working Group started a project ‘Fostering the need for implementation of the ECPGR European Evaluation Network (EVA) on grain legume (ForEVA)’, which brought together 21 genebank partners from the Working Group and more than 30 stakeholders from the public and private sector to develop a new EVA network for legumes. During an in-person meeting in Bucharest on 11-12 October 2023, the partners agreed to establish an EVA Legumes network comprising seven different crop groups (bean, chickpea, fava bean, Lathyrus, lentil, lupine, pea) and a survey on the capacity to provide, regenerate or evaluate genetic resources received feedback from more than 50 partners. Starting in 2024, the crop groups have been developing work plans and funding proposals for the implementation of the EVA Legumes network.

    The ECPGR EVA currently comprises six crop-specific networks for cereals and vegetables: 

    New EVA networks are being considered and can be developed through ECPGR Grant Scheme activities

    History of EVA

    The European Evaluation network EVA is modeled on a successful German national evaluation project EVA-II, which has been operational since 2001. EVA is being implemented with initial funding from the German Ministry of Agriculture for three years (2019-2022) and extended until the end of 2024. The project’s principles, framework and structure were developed during several ECPGR workshops between 2017 and 2019, also organized with the support of the German government.

    Between 2017 and 2019, ECPGR projects funded by Germany aimed at promoting private public partnerships for the increased use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) in European collections. They set the basis for the formulation, consensus building and establishment of an agreed framework at ECPGR level for the implementation of a European Evaluation Network (EVA).

    Another output of these projects was the establishment of a Private Public Partnerships (PPP) Knowledge base that provides information about PPP examples in Europe with a focus on use of PGRFA.

    In May 2018, the ECPGR Steering Committee endorsed the proposal for a European Evaluation Network and assigned to it the acronym EVA. Concomitantly, ECPGR and the European Seed Association (ESA, now Euroseeds) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for enhanced cooperation, in particular within the framework of EVA. The ECPGR Steering Committee also included the development of EVA among the ECPGR objectives for Phase X (2019-2023), specifically the generation of evaluation data throughout the European region and provision of such data to EURISCO.

    Two ECPGR workshops were subsequently held to facilitate the establishment of EVA networks for wheat and barley and for vegetables. During these meetings, participants from public institutions and private breeding companies came together to discuss options and draft a project proposal and plan for the coming years.

    The EVA project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Food
    and Agriculture for the period 2019-2024.