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3. Germplasm Database

3.1 Management and utilization of database

3.1.1 Development of management program

With the popularization of computer technology, utilization of agricultural information and development of related computer program were accomplished in many areas. Agricultural database such as ATINS, Hanwoo and Pig Management program that was developed by the Information Center For Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries were developed (Kim et al., 1996; Roh et al., 1996; Cho et al., 1997).

In the case of silkworm genetic resources, about 340 silkworm strains are under conservation at the Department of Sericulture and Entomology, National Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology, RDA. However, development and systematic utilization of genetic resources were not enough. The major reason is that the importance for the development of genetic resource was not fully recognized, and systematic, prompt work was almost impossible because data and information management was conducted manually.

Japan started software development and information computerization early in 1990, so more than 940 races, more than 3 times as much as ours are now conserved. They conserve genetic resources effectively and develop related basic technology continuously. Their utilization range of genetic resources was not limited to the crossbreeding of domestic silkworm races. They utilize wild silkworm strains such as Japanese oak silkworm, Chinese oak silkworm, and eri silkworm; including collection and conservation of rare insect species. Also, they construct database system and provide basic data systematically which can be attributed to bio-industrialization of insect resources in the 21st century (Lee, 1998).

In 1999, our laboratory began to construct the management program for efficient control of silkworm genetic resources. The main purpose of this was to utilize the useful function of silkworm genetic resources and to substitute the computerized data management for manual data management by developing a software. Now, development of software program was accomplished and thus this reports of the results.

When developing the program, Visual Basic (Microsoft Inc.) was used for data input system construction, and MS Access for database. IIS(Internet Information System) and ASP(Active Server Page) were also used for the search of data and information through Internet Web Server and Web Browser, which are convenient for constructing database and providing information.

Data input item consists of 46 practical characteristics such as race name, moltinism, larval period, pupation percentage among others. These characteristics are classified into qualitative and quantitative characters. Photographs of silkworm, cocoon, and other items were scanned and the image data were input to the database.

This program contains five input divisions such as economic characteristics I, economic characteristics II, economic characteristics III, photographs, and notes. Each division has 46 characteristics such as race, moltinism, voltinism, total cocoon weight, cocoon shell ratio, and the others as shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Database structure of the management software for silkworm genetic resources

Division of Characteristics


No of Sub-division

Economic - Characteristics I

Races etc.


Economic - Characteristics II

Hatchability etc.


Economic - Characteristics III

Filament length etc.



Larva, Cocoon etc.



The nation from which races were introduced etc.


Fig. 2 The second screen of program of characteristics¢ò, contains eggs color, egg shell color, larval blood color, larval foot color, larval shape, and others

Fig. 3 The first screen of program of characteristics¢ñ, contains races, voltinism, moltinism, larval maker, cocoon shape, cocoon color, larval period, and others.

Fig. 4. Photographs of characteristics of silkworm

Fig. 5 The third screen of program of characteristics ¢ó, contains filament length, Filament weight, filament size, reelability, degumming rate, and others.

Figure 2 shows a program screen of economic characteristics I and 15 characteristics such as races, moltinism, cocoon shape, 5th instar period, and others can be inputted. In economic characteristics II division, qualitative characteristics examination results such as egg color, body color of newly hatched larva can be inputted as shown in Figure 2. Division I and II are required to input feeding data but economic division III is prepared for the data obtained from reeling quality estimation as shown in Figure 3. Photographs, as shown in Figure 4, consists of scanned images of larva and cocoon, and the results of isozyme and RAPD electrophoresis. In Notes division, race introducer, introduced nation, and others, are inputted (Figure 5). Figure 6 shows output screen, each of which contains five items, among a total of 46 characteristics.

Since the Convention on Biodiversity came into effect, protection of genetic resources is increasing world widely. Likewise, with interest and utilization of silkworm gene resources. Providing fast and correct information is required for reservation and multiple utilization of silkworm genetic resources, but systematic work is impossible using manual data management. Using PC and visual basic, computerized data base program has been constructed to conserved 340 races of domestic silkworm. General feature of the program is summarized as follows. When developing the program, Visual Basic was used for data input system construction, and Microsoft Access for database. The program consists of 5 session for character input such as economic character I, II, III, photograph data, reference, and 46 quantitative and qualitative characters. By developing this program, information search system for 340 silkworm races was constructed.

Fig. 6 The references of characteristics of silkworms contains the introduced nation, introduced year, and the other information

Fig. 7 Output of total data.

The developed program is expected to be used for as basic study material, information for the breeding scheme, and other multiple purposes by on-line system through Web and off-line CD.

3.1.2 Construction of silkworm gene resources database homepage

The silkworm gene resources database system, which can offer systematic data to sericulture-related institutes, universities and farmers by filtering data obtained by the input management program was constructed. The information of the system has 10 scenes of homepage and 900 scanned images of eggs, larvae, and cocoons; and qualitative characteristics database of silkworm gene such as system, moltinism and egg colors (Fig 8). The homepage was constructed in NIAST homepage (, so people can search data if they connect to NIAST homepage, and updated data will be offered continually.

3.2 Stock Characterization

See Appedix.

3.3 Promotion of global sharing of germplasm information

In principle, we agree to the promotion of global sharing of germplasm information. The advanced sericutural countries, such as Japan, China, and Korea, have much information about strain and breeding skills. So, we think that the advanced countries should share information.

In our opinion, the sericulture developing countries don't have skillful people and strains. For promotion of information sharing, training developing countries' staff in advanced countries is needed, and this is one way to share information. And the other way is that experts from advanced countries train the people in developing countries. There is of no use, if developing countries have no ability to utilize and conserve the shared information and germplams.

We think this is the first step to promote sharing of information. If the skill of breeding silkworm in developing countries reachs at a certain level, the developing countries can succeed and conserve silkworm gene resources by themselves. Then, effective sharing of information will happen. We think that it is not fair if the information and germplams are shared between advanced countries.

Fig. 8 Homepage of silkworm gene resources database.

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