Plant Gene Resources of Canada:
Professional Staff

Axel Diederichsen image Axel Diederichsen, Ph.D.

Curator, Research Scientist
Plant Gene Resources of Canada
Saskatoon Research and Development Centre
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
107 Science Place
Saskatoon SK Canada  S7N 0X2

Tel.: (306) 385-9465
Fax: (306) 385-9489

Research and Curatorial Activities

  • assess the diversity in crop gene pools based on morphological, agronomical and quality characters with emphasis on information useful for crop improvement
  • develop and apply crop descriptor lists in co-operation with Canadian and foreign plant breeders and genebank curators
  • acquire germplasm of relevance for Canada by exchange with other institutions and by participation in collecting missions, nationally and internationally
  • characterize and evaluate using morphological, agrobotanical and agronomical characters the plant genetic resources collection of PGRC; provide information to the database management system (GRIN-CA) for public access via the Internet
  • monitor and rejuvenate accessions in the collection, ensuring genetic integrity of the accessions
  • ensure proper storage of the seeds in the working collection and in the long-term storage facilities
  • assist breeders and researchers in accessing germplasm for their projects
  • participate in national and international efforts to preserve plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and complement in situ and on-farm activities with the ex situ activities of PGRC
  • develop strategies for conserving the germplasm of minor crops (eg.: tomato, rye, coriander, pulse crops, native Canadian species) and identify needs for the acquisition of such germplasm

Presently, PGRC places special emphasis on the oat, barley and wheat collections.

flax height extremes
Shortest and tallest flax accession in the PGRC collection.

flax field plot
Regeneration of flax germplasm by PGRC.

Research Staff

  • Lorie Jones-Flory, Viability Analysis
  • Dallas Kessler, Acquisition and Distribution
  • Donna Chen, Germplasm Evaluation and Processing
  • Mark Schierling, Germplasm Evaluation and Processing


  • World genebanks (VIR, St. Petersburg; IPK, Gatersleben; JKI, Quedlinburg; USDA; VNIIL, Torzhok; Istituto del Germoplasma, Bari; Centre for Plant Genetic Resources of Ukraine, Kharkiv; Nordic Genetic Resource Center, Alnarp)
  • Plant breeders at the University of Saskatchewan
  • Scientists within Canada and abroad

Selected Publications


  • Uysal H. ,Fu Y.-B., Kurt O, Peterson G.W. Diederichsen A. and Kusters P. 2010. Genetic diversity of cultivated flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) and its wild progenitor pale flax (Linum bienne L.) as revealed by ISSR markers. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 57, 1109-1119.
  • Tullu A., Diederichsen A., Suvorova G. and Vandenberg A. (2010). Genetic and genomic resources of lentil: status, use and prospects. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization, 2010, 1-11.
  • Diederichsen A., Rozhkov R.V., Korzhenevsky V.V., Boguslavsky R.L. 2010. Ukrainian-Canadian resources expedition in the Crimea in 2009. Bulletin of the Nikitski Botanical Gardens, 101.
  • Badaeva E.D., Shelukhina O.Yu., Diederichsen A., Loskutov I.G., Pukhalskiy V.A. (2010). Comparative cytogenetic analysis of Avena macrostachya Bal. ex Coss. and diploid C-genome Avena L. species. Genome 53, 125-137.
  • Diederichsen A., Ulrich A. 2009. Variability in stem fibre content and its association with other characteristics in 1177 flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) genebank accessions. Industrial Crops and Products 30, 33-39.
  • Diederichsen A. 2009. Duplication in Nordic Avena sativa accessions at the Canadian national genebank. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 56, 587-597.
  • Diederichsen A., Raney J.P. 2008. Pure-lining of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) genebank accessions for efficiently exploiting and assessing seed character diversity. Euphytica 164, 255-273.
  • Diederichsen A. 2008. Assessments of genetic diversity within a world collection of cultivated hexaploid oat (Avena sativa L.) based on qualitative morphological characters. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 55, 419-440.
  • Diederichsen A., Rozhmina T.A. and Kudrjavceva L.P. 2008. Variation patterns within 153 flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) genebank accessions based on evaluation for resistance to fusarium wilt, anthracnose and pasmo. Plant Genetic Resources: Characterization and Utilization 6, 22-32.
  • Diederichsen A. 2007. Ex-situ collections of cultivated flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) and other species of the genus Linum L. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 54, 661-678.
  • Diederichsen A., Boguslavskij R.L., Halan M.S. and Richards K.W. 2007. Collecting plant genetic resources in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains within the territory of Ukraine in 2005. Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 151, 14-21.
  • Diederichsen, A., Raney J.P. and Duguid S.D. 2006. Variation of mucilage in flax seed and its relationship with other seed characters. Crop Science 46, 365-371.
  • Diederichsen A. and Raney J.P. 2006. Seed colour, seed weight and seed oil content in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) accessions held by Plant Gene Resources of Canada. Plant Breeding 125, 372-377
  • Diederichsen A., Rozhmina T.A., Zhuchenko A.A. and Richards K.W. 2006. Screening for broad adaptation in 96 flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) accessions under dry and warm conditions in Canada and Russia. FAO/IPGRI Plant Genetic Resources Newsletter 146, 7-14.
  • Diederichsen A. and Fu Y.B. 2006. Phenotypic and molecular (RAPD) differentiation of four infraspecific groups of cultivated flax (Linum usitatissimum L. subsp. usitatissimum). Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 53, 77-90.
  • Diederichsen A. 2004. Case studies for the use of infraspecific classifications in managing germplasm collections of cultivated plants. Acta Horticulturae 634, 127-139.
  • Diederichsen A. and Jones-Flory L.L. 2005. Accelerated aging tests with seeds of 11 flax (Linum usitatissimum) cultivars. Seed Science and Technology 33, 419-429.

Other selected scientific publications

  • Diederichsen A. 2011. Hausgärten als für Kulturpflanzenevolution - eine Fallstudie mit Gartenbohnen. Samensurium 17, 64-68.
  • Diederichsen A. and McVetty P. 2011. Chapter 2 Botany and Plant Breeding. In: Daun J.K., Eskin N.A.M. and Hickling D. (eds.) Canola chemistry, production, processing and utilization, pp. 29-56. AOCS Press, Urbana, USA.
  • Hammer K. and Diederichsen A. 2009. Evolution, status and perspectives for landraces in Europe. In: Veteläinen M., Negri V. and Maxted N. (eds.) European landraces: on-farm conservation, management and use. Bioversity Technical Bulletin No 15, pp. 23-44.
  • Diederichsen A. 2009. Taxonomical and morphological assessments of infraspecific diversity in cultivated flax (Linum usitatissimum L.). Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Tropics and Subtropics, Supplement 92, 33-51.
  • Diederichsen A. 2008. Beans prove it: Home Gardens are Hot Spots for Crop Evolution. Seeds of Diversity, Canada, no 21/3, 12-15.
  • Diederichsen A. and Richards K.W. 2003. Cultivated flax and the genus Linum L. - Taxonomy and germplasm conservation. In: Muir A. and Westcott N. (eds.): Flax, the genus Linum. Taylor & Francis, London, UK. pp. 22-54.

Research Financial Support

  • Agricultural Development Fund - Saskatchewan
  • Can-Oats Milling Products Inc.
  • Quaker Oat Company of Canada Ltd.
  • Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission
  • Saskatchewan Pulse Crop Development Board

Recent Achievements and Awards and Memberships

  • Award - "Rudolf-Mansfeld-Preis", 1994, awarded by Verein für Förderung der Kulturpflanzenforschung Gatersleben e.V., Germany
  • Member - International Seed Testing Association, Nomenclature Committee
  • Member - Seed Savers Exchange, USA