Ibadan, Nigeria, West Africa

The Germplasm Health Unit (GHU) in IITA-Ibadan is tasked with maintaining plant health in line with various international standards. It is responsible for implementing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), notices from the Inter-African Phytosanitary Council (IAPSC), NPPOs regulations, and all recommendations from international agricultural research centers.

The GHU primarily enables movement of germplasm between countries. It ensures the production of good quality and healthy plants by intercepting and guarding against the introduction of exotic seed-borne pests or races of pathogens. It also prevents the international spread of these pests to Pest Free Areas (PFA) in collaborating countries. The GHU’s activities are broken down into services, research, and matters of compliance. It has two laboratories with several major equipment.

GHU Services

The GHU inspects and certifies crops in the fields, screenhouses, and containment for multiplication, regeneration, post-entry crop certification, and pre-shipment certification. It performs diagnostic tests on plant and seed samples, in collaboration with the Virology Unit, and performs plant and seed treatments.

The GHU provides information on the origin of the germplasm and a list of the target pests for which it was inspected or tested for, and any treatments applied on the consignment while in the field or postharvest. The unit obtains import and export documents from the national Plant Quarantine Services (PQS). It registers all import and export consignments at PQS, and delivers and collects consignments.

GHU provides diagnostic services to all IITA scientists and scientists from other centers located within the IITA stations. It assists the Genetic Resources Center in health testing rejuvenated germplasm material grown in the screenhouses. The GHU enhances the acceptance of germplasm material derived from IITA mandate crops by providing quick detection and timely reporting of pests on germplasm material destined for international distribution.

Research Mandate

The GHU conducts some research to determine the pathogenicity of symptoms observed in the fields and puts together the characterization of symptoms. The GHU studies seed treatment tests for the control of seed- borne pathogens as requested by importing countries and also researches pathogenic fungi and bacteria detected on export germplasm in the field and laboratory. The unit works to test the efficacy and evaluation of various fungicides for the eradication of microorganisms on germplasm.

The unit sets tolerance levels for pathogen infection and identifies and determines the causal organisms detected in the field. It looks at the biology and biocontrol of seed-borne pathogens. It determines the nature of the propagules and transmission of seed-borne fungi and bacteria. Finally it is integral in the identification of PFAs for multiplication on each mandate crop.

Compliance to International Regulations

The GHU guards against the introduction of exotic pests and new virulent forms of existing pests into unaffected countries. The unit helps scientists to safely exchange plant materials by implementing IPPC, IAPSC, and IARC recommendations on plant health standards for the international exchange of germplasm. It ensures that germplasm consignments for export from, or imported to, IITA are neither infested nor infected by pests, in particularly those of quarantine importance. The GHU implements import and export requirements of collaborating countries. Phytosanitary certificates are also obtained from the NPQS by the GHU to cover lines, genotypes, accessions and other crop types distributed to various countries worldwide.