Genetic Resources Center
IITA’s genebank holds plant material (germplasm) of major food crops of Africa. This germplasm is held in trust on behalf of humanity under the auspices of the United Nations. It is distributed without restriction for use in research for food and agriculture.
Plant and animal genetic resources are the foundation for sustainable agriculture and global food security. Genetic diversity enables plants to adapt to new pest and diseases as well as to climatic and environmental changes (drought tolerance, soil erosion, human preferences, etc.).
Agrobiodiversity is the component of biodiversity that contributes to food and agriculture.
Today, the world is losing genetic resources at unprecedented rates. The biological basis for food security is fast disappearing. Agricultural sustainability is therefore dependent on a strong conservation component.
Biodiversity can either be maintained in or out of its natural environment, i.e. in or ex situ.
IITA ex situ conservation activity started in the mid-seventies with the establishment of a genebank.
Depending on species reproductive/dissemination biology, collections are either stored in field-, seed- or in vitro genebanks. All crops producing orthodox seeds are maintained at optimal water content in medium- (5 ºC and 30–35% relative humidity) or long-term (-20 ºC, under vacuum) storage conditions.
Clonal crops, i.e., vegetatively propagated, are either maintained in field- and/or in vitro banks.
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