Viability of cultivated barley and wild relatives genetic resources

Contributors to this page: ICARDA, Syria (Ahmed Amri, Bilal Humeid, Kenneth Street, Natalya Rukhkyan, Jan Konopka, Siham Asaad, Adnan Omran and Fida Alô).

Viability testing
Routine monitoring

Viability testing

Laboratory methods

Describes the various recommended options, to test the viability and quality of barley seeds. The percentage of germination of the stored seeds of the accessions determines when regeneration of the accessions should take place and if the accession can be distributed to the users.

Type of test

Number of seeds and replicates





Duration of test

Transplanting germinated seeds to the plastic house (photo: ICARDA)

Interpretation of results

Following ISTA (2003, 2005) and Association of Seed Analysts (AOSA), 2005:

Monitoring intervals

Describes the recommended intervals for different storage conditions.

Recording information during viability testing

On petri dishes

On data sheets and database

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Routine monitoring

Describes the recommended monitoring methods to assure minimum viability and quantity of seeds in storage.


To check the quantity

To check the viability

Monitoring frequency

Lists the minimum quantity and minimum viability of seeds below which they need to be regenerated.

Critical quantity

Critical germination level

Recording information during routine monitoring

The following information should be recorded for each monitoring step:

References and further reading

AOSA (Association of Official Seed Analysts). 2005. Page 113 in: Rules for Testing Seeds (Capashew Ed.), 4-0, 4-11. Las Cruces, New Mexico, U.S.A.

FAO/IPGRI. 1994. Genebank standards. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome and International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome. Available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

ISTA. 2003. International rules for seed testing. International Seed Testing Association, Bassersdorf, Switzerland.

ISTA. 2005. International rules for seed testing. International Seed Testing Association, Bassersdorf, Switzerland.

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The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.