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Tropentag 2021, September 15 - 17, hybrid conference, Germany

"Towards shifting paradigms in agriculture for a healthy and sustainable future"

Global initiative for the Secure Long-Term Preservation of Clonal and Recalcitrant Crop Genetic Resources Collections via Cryopreservation

Badara Gueye

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Genetic Resources Centre, Nigeria


There is global agreement on the necessity of diverse and available genetic resources for crop improvement, plant production, enhanced and sustained nutrition and welfare in the face of our changing climate. Ex situ conservation initiatives have been untaken globally, yet clonally propagated and recalcitrant crop germplasm collections are relatively hard and expensive to conserve. Most of these collections encounter challenges such as sub-optimal storage conditions and a lack of secure safety back-up. Cryopreservation has been reported to be the best long-term conservation option for these crops as it offers options for safety backup, virus elimination, long-term cost-effective preservation, increased longevity, and greater genetic stability. Although cryopreservation offers huge benefits, up to 100,000 Annex 1 accessions are in danger of loss in field and in vitro genebanks. The COVID-19 pandemic has further threatened these collections while also clearly demonstrating the urgent need for a global initiative for the preservation of these invaluable collections for humankind. Therefore, considering the high initial cost of a cryobank, the necessary high technical skills and difficulties related to the validation of uniqueness and virus cleanliness of germplasm, there is need for a global effort that will allow to safeguard all those collections at risk of diversity loss. The Global Cryopreservation Initiative has been initiated to safeguard those collections at highest risk and to ensure long-term storage capacity for genetic resources of clonal and recalcitrant seed crops. The Initiative aims to secure endangered crop collections, especially in the developing world, through regional cryo-hubs and ambitions to involve all relevant stakeholders (NARs, ARIs, CGIAR, Universities, etc.). In addition, the initiative will provide capacity building (awareness, know-how, support) and safety cryo back-up in an immerging global plant cryo network. In a dynamic and evolving way, expertise will be formally coalesced to implement methodologies and results into operational protocols, cryopreservation services, cryo back-up facilities, and the formation of a global network and plant cryopreservation Community of Practice. These collections which are now at risk of loss and hard to conserved will be secure and accessible under the ITPGRFA to provide untapped genes to face current and future agricultural challenges.

Keywords: Clonal crops, cryopreservation, genetic resources, global network

Contact Address: Badara Gueye, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Genetic Resources Centre, Oyo Road, Ibadan, Nigeria, e-mail: b.gueye@cgiar.org

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