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1. Introduction

China, 'the cradle of sericulture' achieved stupendous progress in sericulture development over the last five decades since liberation in 1949 and occupies the prime position in the overall global silk production. Mulberry sericulture as a viable rural occupation and as a potential constituent of economy has been well realized through Government's pragmatic and practical policies, realistic planning, concerted and intensive Research and Development efforts and meticulous implementation.

Sericutlure in China can be traced back to 5000 years ago, the first written record about silkworm varieties were made in 1637 in the book "Tian Gong Kai Wu" by Song Yinxing. Improvement of silkworm varieties has been always the basic elements to improve the sericulture productivity, selection of better silkworm varieties and their multiplication and maintenance had been practiced consciously or unconsciously for long a history, however, systematically collection and investigation on silkworm varieties just started from 19th century. An overview on the history of the germplasm maintenance in China is briefed as following.

In China, sericulture, basically the agro-based cash crop is practiced in over 18 provinces where the climate and rural backdrop vary considerably. The phased development of sericulture is oriented towards specific direction given in the successive ten 5 year plans of the country and made it as a sustainable enterprise. In 1984, the national Sericulture Research Institute had awarded one million yuan fund to carry out the research on Silkworm Gene Analysis, Establishment and Enrich of Silkworm Germpalsm Resource, and Application of Mutation Genes as a key project by National Natural Science Foundation in the 7th 5-year plan.

After that, the next national five-year plan had awarded the second key project for Research on Silkworm Gene Mutation and Linkage Analysis to Southwest University. Therefore, the major silkworm germpalsm resources are maintained in the National Sericulture Research Institute (with the most complete germplasm bank in China) and Southwest University with emphasizing on gene mutations and molecular mapping analysis, though there are other universities and provincial institutes maintained their own breeder's stock and some special materials. Since the economical reform and especially the privatization of state owned co-operations, some private owned companies such as Sichaung Huachen Group, also started involving the collection, maintenance and investigation on silkworm germplasm resources.

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