What is a Genebank?

Genebank is where crops are been concerved genetically, (Diversity) for future purpose. For research, breeding, training for food and agriculture.

What is Genebank collection?

Genetic resources conserves collection of seed and clonal  crops that includes cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), soybean (Glycine max), maize (Zea mays), Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), African yam bean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa), wild vigna (Wild Vigna species), Yam( Dioscorea Spp), Cassava ( Manihot esculenta), plantain & banana ( Musa Spp) and some miscellaneous legumes (Annex 1). Seeds are  maintained at medium and long term  storage at a temperature of 50C and -200C, while clonal crops are conserved on the field, in vitro and cryo respectively.

What is germplasm characterization?

Characterization is the description of plant germplasm. It determines the expression of highly heritable characters ranging from morphological or agronomical features to seed proteins or molecular markers. Characterization of germplasm is essential to provide information on the traits of accessions assuring the maximum utilization of the germplasm collection to the final users.

What is germplasm multiplication?

Germplasm multiplication is the max increase renewal of germplasm accessions.

What triggers the regeneration?

Regeneration is the renewal of germplasm accessions by sowing seeds or planting vegetative materials and harvesting the seeds or plant materials which will posses the same characteristics as the original population.

In new collections or materials received as donations, the quantity of seeds or plant materials received by the genebank is often insufficient for direct conservation. Seeds or plant materials may also be of poor quality due to low viability or infection. All these materials require regeneration. Newly acquired germplasm of foreign origin may need to be initially regenerated under containment or in an isolation area under the supervision of the national plant quarantine authorities.

What is germplasm acquisition?

Acquisition is the collection of differnt species of  seed and clonal crops across the globe. It could be by dontions., with all necessary document attached to it , like country of collection, locations( state, town, and village) Date of collections, Cultival name,   geo- reference data and name of the collector. Genetic resources center conserves a collection of seed and clonal crops that includes cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), soybean (Glycine max), maize (Zea mays), Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), African yam bean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa), wild vigna (Wild Vigna species) and some miscellaneous legumes (Annex 1), Cassava ( manihot esculenta), Yam ( Dioscorea spp), and plaintain and banana ( Musa spp) The seeds are maintained at both medium and long term cold storage at a temperature of 50C and -200C., while clonal are maintained in in vitro ans cryo respectively .

What is germplasm conservation?

Genetic resources conservation is vital to global food security and poverty alleviation. IITA’s Genetic Resources Center (GRC) plays a major role in the conservation of seed and clonal crops germplasm in order to prevent the genetic erosion of these crop species and maintain a genetic base for crop improvement.

IITA conserves  collection of seed  and clonal crops that includes cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), soybean (Glycine max), maize (Zea mays), Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea), African yam bean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa), wild vigna (Wild Vigna species), Yam ( Dioscorea Spp), Plantain and Banana ( Musa Spp), Cassava (Manihot esculenta)and some miscellaneous legumes (Annex 1).  seeds are  maintained in medium and long term cold storage at a temperature of 50C and -200C, while clonal crops are maintained on the field, in vitro and cryo preservation respectively

What is germplasm distribution?

Germplasm distribution is the supply of representative samples of seeds or plant material accessions from a gene bank in response to requests from germplasm users. In general, seeds or plant material is only distributed from active collections.

When do we assign accession numbers?

Accession number is assigned to a particular germplasm when it enter into the genebank collection. It is a unique identifier.

What is the temperature in Medium Term Storage (MTS) and it's relative humidity?

The  mediun term storage temperature is 50C, and it’s relative humidty is 30-35% respectively

What is the temperature in Long Term Storage (LTS) and it's relative humidity

The long term storage temperature  is -200C and it’s relative humidity is under vaccum.

What is safety duplication?

This is the duplication of a genetically identical sub-sample of the accession to mitigate the risk of its partial or total loss caused by natural or man-made catastrophes. The safety duplicates are genetically identical to the base collection. Safety duplicates include both the duplication of material and its related information, and are deposited in a base collection at a different location, usually in another country. The location is chosen to minimize possible risks and provides the best possible storage facilities. We duplicate our accession in Svalbard (Norway) and Saskatoon (Canada).

What is documentation?

Documenting the information received along with a sample is an important aspect of registration. Information documented at registration consists of passport data providing basic information for identification and general management of individual accessions.
Much of this information is either recorded when the sample is collected or accompanies the sample if it is received from other sources. The use of internationally accepted descriptor lists to document passport information simplifies data exchange between genebanks. The standard Multi-crop Passport Descriptor (MCPD) list developed by FAO and IPGRI is available

What is a Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA) and why/when do we use SMTA?

SMTA  is an agreement between GRC and our collabaorators before seed or clonal crops can be distributed. We use SMTA because it is a policy that has to be followed,  it is requires when requesting for germplasm

What is viability and acceptable viabilty percentage?

Seed or plant viability is the measure of how many seeds or how much plant material in a lot are alive and could develop into plants that will reproduce under appropriate field conditions. It is very important that seeds or plant material stored in the genebank are capable of producing plants when sown in the field. They must have high viability at the start of storage and maintain it during storage. Seeds or plant material with a high initial viability will also survive longer in storage. The acceptable viabilty test is 85% and above, these are considered to be viable.


What is an Accession ?

A distinct uniquely identifiable sample representing a cultivar, breeding line or a population, which is maintained in storage for conservation and use.


What is Active collection ?

A collection of germplasm maintained for ready distribution and conserved indefinitely. Users access material in active collections when their working collections prove inadequate for their particular purposes. Distribution is easier within a region than between regions for a variety of reasons (cost of shipment, plant health regulations, ease of interaction with users etc. It is conserved at 5oC and 15% RH. Seeds are sealed inside air-tight aluminium foil pouches after drying at 14-15%RH, 17oC and conserved at 5 oC.



International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.


What is Base collection ?

A collection of germplasm conserved for the long term, which is used to replenish the active collection as needed, but from which no distribution to users is done. Its physical proximity to users is not important, unlike active collections. However, proximity to the geographic origin of the crop might be an advantage because of the environmental suitability for regeneration


What is Breeder’s line ?

Materials developed and fixed by a breeding method

What is Drying room ?

An air-conditioned room at 17oC and 14-15% RH used for seed drying

What is Genebank material ?

Materials imported by the genebank and introduced into the active collection for use and conservation


Genetic Resources Center


Health and Safety: the right of every employee to carry out his daily work in a safe environment


Intellectual Property Rights


International Standards for Germplasm Management


Long Term Storage: a cold room at -20oC and 15% RH for the conservation of the base collection


Medium Term Storage: a cold room at 5oC and 15% RH for the conservation of the active collection


National Agricultural Research System


National Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology


Nigeria Plant Quarantine Service (Federal Ministry of Agriculture)

What is Safety back-up collection?

A copy of a collection conserved off site as an insurance against loss


Svalbard Global Seed Vault


Standard Material Transfer Agreement