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A Tour to World’s Second Largest Seed Gene Bank: Conserving Diversity for Today & Posterity

Sugandh Bhatnagar
Sugandh Bhatnagar
Dr Veena Gupta & Dr Kavita Gupta outside National Gene Bank

The National Gene Bank is situated at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, for ex-situ (off-site) conservation of germplasm collections in the form of seeds, vegetative propagules, tissues/cell cultures, embryos, gametes, etc.

Among all these, seeds are the easiest & most convenient form for long-term conservation/ distribution and hence the seed gene bank forms the major component of NGB & the cornerstone of the Indian National Plant Genetic Resources network.

Over the last three decades, NGB’s seed gene bank has grown into a colossal seed vault & has been catering to the crop improvement programmes of almost all Agri-horticultural crops. Valuable germplasm of various crop species has been collected, acquired & assembled in NGB from all over India & the world through an active collaboration with the partners in the National Agricultural Research System (NARS).

National Gene Bank holds 4, 38, 084 accessions belonging to 1900 species as on June 2018, making it the second-largest GeneBank in the World.

The National Gene Bank has more than 75,000 Landraces/ Traditional Cultivars in multiple crops, which are not currently in cultivation and are the original genetic backup for every potential trait.

Processing before the seed is sent to the Gene Bank

  • Each seed sample is processed through a series of steps to ensure that it meets the quality requirements for long-term storage as the base collection.

  • Only samples of adequate seed quantity are processed further. Debris, inert material, damaged & infested/infected seeds & inferior seeds are removed.

Seed drying
  • These seeds are then tested for health & quality to ensure pest free conservation. Seeds are then dried & further tested for viability under long term storage conditions of low temperature & seed moisture content.

  • The base collection is maintained at -18 degree celcius in 12 long term storage modules at ICAR NBPGR, New Delhi.

National Seed gene Bank Accession Status
  • The germplasm accessions are routinely monitored for loss of viability & fall in seed quantity at pre-determined intervals.

  • Those accessions where viability percentage has dropped below 85% of initial viability or are of less seed quantity are regenerated following appropriate standards.

Dr Veena Gupta Explaining Krishi Jagran about the Gene bank

Krishi Jagran would like to thank Dr Ashok Kumar, Director, ICAR- NBPGR for giving us the opportunity to visit the campus & Dr Veena Gupta Head DGC, ICAR- NBPGR for giving us an elaborate tour of the Gene Bank. We would also thank Dr Kavita Gupta,OIC- PME, ICAR-NBPGR & Dr. SK Yadav, Principal Scientist, ICAR- NBPGR, for arranging this visit.

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