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Storage of maize genetic resources | Seed bank for maize genetic resources | Conservation of maize genetic resources | Maize genetic resources | Crops CGKB | Resources | Genebank Platform

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Storage of maize genetic resources


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

Contents:
Base collection
Active collection
Storage management

Base collection

A base collection is a form of long-term storage. The initial population is used as a bench mark for monitoring changes in genetic diversity over time and after several cycles of regeneration due to genetic drift. It should ensure that seed viability and seed availability of the accessions in the genebank remain at acceptable levels for at least 50 years, which would be one regeneration cycle of a maize genebank accession. It is also used as a back up when the active collection samples are no longer available.

When it should be used

Seeds going into foil bags at CIMMYT (photo: CIMMYT)

The function and operation of the base collection should be supported in the long term through core funding of the institution or government.

The base collection serves the following purposes:

Sample specifications

To conserve as many accessions as possible in a cost effective manner.

Minimum sample size for storage

Minimum viability for storage

Moisture content

Important to maintain seed viability for long term conservation.

Container specifications

Seed packaging method

To pack the seeds in impermeable pouches and to reduce seed metabolism to a minimum.

Specifications of packaging material

Storage specifications

Assigning location codes

To facilitate access to the seed accessions stored in the genebank.

Storage conditions

To ensure longevity of the seed viability.

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Active collection

An active collection is a medium-term storage. Its purpose is to conserve a large quantity of seeds per accession in order to meet seed requests, as well as to be used for research and enhancement by the genebank. The active collection preserves the germplasm accessions for at least 20 years or for a half of one regeneration cycle in the base collection, as the cost of the regeneration of maize accessions is expensive. (Click for more information on the costs of regeneration from CIMMYT)

When it should be used

The active collection serves to:

Sample specifications

To make seed samples available to meet the seed requests.

Minimum sample size for storage

Minimum viability for storage

Moisture content

To maintain seed viability for more than 20 years in active collection.

Labeled jars of maize in the USDA genebank in Ames, USA.
Note the barcodes. (photo: M. Mackay)

Storage of maize seeds in plastic containers (photo: CIMMYT)

Container specifications

Airtight, thick plastic transparent containers protect the seeds from absorbing moisture and can hold sufficient amounts of seed. They are also handy to access and retrieve seed samples. Containers should have bar code labels inside and outside the container for efficient record-keeping.

Seed packaging method

Specifications of packaging material

Storage specifications

Assigning location codes

To provide easy access and retrieval of the seed accessions from the seed storage vault.

Storage conditions

To ensure that seed viability in the active collection storage can last more than 20 years.

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Storage management

Provides guidance on how to arrange the physical space, how to track seed material and record information during storage.

Inside a genebank storage room (photo: CIMMYT)

Storage space arrangement

It is very important to provide easy access to the accessions.

Room

Shelves

System for tracking materials/inventory system in seed banks

To provide efficient and effective access to the seed accessions.

Recording information during storage

The following information must be recorded for each consignment:

References and further reading

Brandolini A. 1970. Maize. in: Frankel OH, Bennett E, editors. Genetic Resources in Plants: Their Exploration and Conservation. F.A. Davis Co., Philadelphia. pp. 273-309.

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

Ellis RH. 1998. Longevity of seeds stored hermetically at low moisture contents. Seed Science Research supplement 1:9-10.

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.

Pardey PG, Koo B, Wright BD, Van Dusen ME, Skovmand B, Taba S. 2001. Costing the conservation of genetic resources: CIMMYT’s ex situ maize and wheat collection. Crop Science 41(4):1286-1299. Available from : http://sgrp.cgiar.org/sites/default/files/Pardey-2001.pdf. Accessed: 15 September 2010.

Probert RJ, Hay FR. 2000. Keeping seeds alive. In: Black M, Bewley JD, editors. Seed technology and its biological basis. CRC Press LLC. USA and Canada. pp. 375-404.

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

Walters C, Wheeler LM, Grotenhuis JM. 2005. Longevity of seeds stored in a genebank: species characteristics. Seed Science Research 15:1-20.

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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.

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