Registration of maize genetic resources

Contributors to this page: CIMMYT, Mexico (Suketoshi Taba, Bonnie J. Furman), with inputs also received from IITA, Nigeria (Dominique Dumet); EMBRAPA (maize and sorghum genebank), Brazil (Flavia Teixeira); USDA (ARS/NC7, ISU), USA (Mark Millard).

Rationale for registration

As the entries of a genebank increase, the issue of several possible duplicates emerges and this greatly affects the cost of their efficient and effective conservation. Therefore proper registration is an essential step in the effectual management of the collection.

Verifying accompanying documentation

A minimal documentation is essential to track germplasm material. Health and IPR certificates are very important for entry into the country. The following documents should accompany each consignment of plant germplasm:

Verifying the consignment

Each new sample is assessed before registration within the collection. Assessment is necessary to verify the legitimacy of the material, to avoid the introduction of new pests and diseases and the storing of dead material, and also to assure that only seeds in good condition and a high probability of viability should be registered. The first step is very important to avoid duplicates, as well as to have complete information on genebank accessions. These data enhance the value of the germplasm collection.


Documenting information of maize accessions at the USDA genebank (photo: L. Guarino, by kind permission of USDA genebank in Ames, Iowa, USA)

Checking for duplicates

Content verification

Handling incoming germplasm

Assigning accession identification numbers

Label foil bags with information about the seeds
(photo: CIMMYT)

Recording information during registration

The following information should additionally be recorded for each new accession:

References and further reading

Chang TT. 1985. Preservation of crop germplasm. Iowa State Journal of Research. Vol. 59. No.4. pp. 365-378.

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.

Hanson J. 1985. Procedures for handling seeds in genebanks. Practical manuals for genebanks no. 1. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, Rome. HTML version available from:

Justice OL, Bass LN. 1978. Principles and practices of seed storage. Agriculture handbook no. 506. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C.

Mezzalama M, Gilchrist L, McNab A. 2005. Seed Health: Rules and regulations for the safe movement of germplasm. Mexico. D.F., CIMMYT. Available from: Date accessed: 3 September 2010.

Taba S, Ginkel M, Hoisington D, Poland D. 2004. Operations manual. Wellhausen-Anderson Plant Genetic Resources Center:  2004. El Batan, Mexico:CIMMYT. Available here.

Warham EJ, Butler LD, Sutton BC. 1996. Seed testing of maize and wheat: A laboratory guide. CIMMYT, Mexico and CAB International, UK.

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.