Germplasm Conservation- In Situ, Ex situ and On-Farm and PGR


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Germplasm Conservation- In Situ, Ex situ and On-Farm; Short, Medium & Long term Conservation Strategies for Conservation of Orthodox Seed and Vegetatively propagated Crops; Registration of plant genetic sources.


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Germplasm Conservation- In Situ, Ex situ and On-Farm; Short, Medium & Long term Conservation Strategies for Conservation of Orthodox Seed and Vegetatively propagated Crops; Registration of plant genetic sources.:

Germplasm Conservation- In Situ , Ex situ and O n-Farm ; Short, Medium & Long term Conservation Strategies for Conservation of Orthodox Seed and Vegetatively propagated Crops; Registration of plant genetic sources. K. K. Chandel Ph.D Research Scholar Genetics and Plant Breeding


Sr. No. Content 1. Biodiversity 2. Germplasm Conservation . 3. In Situ and Ex situ. 4. Short, Medium & Long term Conservation. 5. Strategies for Conservation of Orthodox Seed and Vegetatively propagated Crop. 6. Registration of plant genetic sources. 7. References.

Biodiversity - Definition:

Biodiversity - Definition The variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Biodiversity can be observed at three levels:

Biodiversity can be observed at three levels Genetic diversity:- Each member of any animal or plants species differs widely from other individual in its genetic makeup. Species diversity :- Number of species of plants and animals that are present in a region constitutes its species diversity. 3) Ecosystem diversity :- There are large variety of different ecosystems on earth. Each having their own complement of distinctive interlinked species based on the differences in the habitat.

Biogeographic Zones:

Biogeographic Zones

Hot Spots:

Hot Spots

Biodiversity is essential to: -:

Biodiversity is essential to : - Ensure the production of food, fiber, fuel, fodder... Maintain other ecosystem services Allow adaptation to changing conditions including-Climate change And sustain rural peoples' livelihoods

Germplasm Conservation :

Germplasm Conservation The germplasm has to be maintained in such a state that there is minimum risk for its loss and that either it can be prepared for planting with relative ease; this is called germplasm conservation. OR The management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the sustainable benefit to present generations, while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations .

Why Conservation ?:

Why Conservation ? Conservation of plant genetic resources is necessary for food security and agro-biodiversity. Genetic diversity provides options to develop through selection and breeding of new and more productive crops, resistant to biological and environmental stresses (Rao, 2004). Biodiversity provides a source of compounds to the medical, food and crop protection industries. For more food, it will be necessary to make better use of a broader range of genetic diversity across the glob. Many plant species are now in danger of becoming extinct ( Panis and Lambardi , 2005). Genetically uniform modern varieties are being replaced with highly diverse local cultivars and landraces of traditional agro-ecosystems. Deforestation, urbanization, pollution, habitat destruction, fragmentation and degradation, spread of invasive alien species, climate change, changing life styles, globalization, market economies, over-grazing and changes in land-use pattern are contributing indirectly to the loss of diversity (Pitman and Jorgensen, 2002; Rao, 2004).

Long term objectives:

Long term objectives 1. To improve the effectiveness of sustainable management and conservation of biodiversity through adequate conservation, use and handling of genetic resources . 2. To increase the availability of diversified species with poor seed storability for use in breeding programmes (seed supply). 3. To improve medium and long term conservation technologies of genetic resources (genetic conservation ). 4. To build and strengthen research capabilities in developing countries through training and transfer of knowledge and technology and the establishment of an informal network of researchers on agriculture seeds from developing and developed countries (technology transfer and sharing of experience).

Immediate objectives:

Immediate objectives 1. Scientific aspects: To characterize the seed storage behaviour (recalcitrant , intermediate or short lived orthodox ) of specific, valuable species and to recommend regimes for their short and medium term storage. 2. Seed supply aspects: To develop effective technologies/methods for seed collecting, transport, storage, testing and seed health aspects . 3. Genetic conservation aspects: To develop guidelines for genetic conservation of seeds of crops species (or groups of species ). 4. Technology transfer: To produce a publication and practical guidelines for the handling of crops seed species, dealing with all aspects from ripeness, harvest and storage to testing and sowing. To develop and publish guidelines for genetic conservation of valuable plant genetic resources.

Germplasm Conservation :

Germplasm Conservation The Germplasm has to be maintained in such a state that there is minimum risk for its loss and that either it can be planted directly in the field or it can be prepared for planted for planting with relative ease. Ex-situ Conservation - Germplasm conservation is attempted outside or away from its natural habitat. In-situ Conservation – Conservation of germplasm in its natural habitat or in area where it grows naturally. On-farm Conservation One of new approach to in situ conservation of genetic resources, focusing on conserving cultivated plant species in farmers' fields. Its nothing but “The sustainable management of genetic diversity of locally developed traditional crop varieties, with associated wild and weedy species or forms, by farmers within traditional agricultural, horticultural or agri-silvicultural cultivation systems" ( Maxted et al . 1997).

In – Situ / Ex – Situ :

In – Situ / Ex – Situ In – Situ Ex – Situ Merits Not only conserve the genetic diversity its also allows evolution to genetic with climate Its not allows evolution to genetic with climate its allows new alleles and new gene combination would appear with time No any new gene combination due to fix environment condition Demerits Its difficult to establish and very difficult to maintain Required costly and well occupied lab Very prone to biotic and abiotic stresses Also require large area

Types of Ex-situ conservation:

Types of Ex-situ conservation Seed Gene bank - All gene banks are essentially seed banks - Seed storage in containers of glass, plastic and tin for 50 to 100 year Roberts (1973) has classified seeds into two groups for storage purpose ; viz. Orthodox- Seeds which can be dried to low moisture content (5%) and stored at low temperature without losing their viability for long periods of time. More than 90% of plants spp. Belong to this group. Recalcitrant- Seeds which show very drastic loss in viability with a decrease in moisture content below 12 - 30% are known as recalcitrant seeds - cocoa, coconut, mango, tea, coffee, rubber, jackfruit and oil palm seeds. Such seeds cannot be conserved in seed banks and, therefore require in-situ conservation (on-farm).

Types conservation:

Types conservation Seeds are very convenient for storage because they occupy smaller space than whole plants. In the seed banks, there are three types of conservation, viz., Short term (Working Collections) Medium Term (Active Collections) Long Term (Base Collections)

Short term storage: (working collections ):

Short term storage: ( working collections ) Short term storage : working collections are stored for short term (>3-5 years) at 10-15 0 C at 10% Moisture. The accessions being actively used in crop improvement programmes . These collections are maintained by the breeders using them.

Medium term storage: (Active collections ):

Medium Term storage: The accessions in an active collection are stored at temperatures below 15 0 C (often near 0 0 C), and the seed moisture is kept at 5%. The storage is for medium duration, i.e., 10-15 years. These collections are used for evaluation, multiplication and distribution of the accessions. Active collections are usually maintained by multiplying the seeds of their own accessions. But from time to time, base collection material should be used for regeneration of these collections. Medium term storage: (Active collections ) Bergen Nat Acc of Arts

Long term storage: (Base collections ):

3. Long term storage: These consist of all the accessions present in the germplasm of a crop, which are stored at about -20 0 C with 5% moisture content; they are disturbed only for regeneration. Germination tests are done every 5-10 years. When the germination of an accessions falls below, usually, 95% of its germination at the start of storage, the accession is regenerated. High quality orthodox seeds can maintain good viability upto 100 years. Long term storage: (Base collections )

Seed Gene Bank:

Seed Gene Bank Disadvantages Seeds of recalcitrant species cannot be stored in seed banks. Failure of power supply may lead to loss of viability and thereby loss of germplasm. It requires periodical evaluation of seed viability. After some time multiplication is essential to get new or fresh seeds for storage. Advantages Large number of germplasm samples can be conserved in a very small space. Handling of germplasm is easy Germplasm is conserved under pathogen and insect free environment.

2. Field Gene Bank (Plant gene bank, ex-situ conservation):

2. Field Gene Bank (Plant gene bank, ex-situ conservation ) Those plant species that have recalcitrant seeds or do not produce seeds readily are conserved in field gene banks. In field gene banks, germplasm is maintained in the form of plants as a permanent living collection. Field gene banks are often estab­lished to maintain working collections of living plants for experimental purposes. They are used as source of germplasm for species such as coconut, rubber, mango, cassava, yam and cocoa .

Field Gene Bank:

Field Gene Bank Disadvantages Field gene banks cannot cover the entire genetic diversity of a species. It can cover only a fraction of the full range of diversity of a species. The germplasm in field gene banks is exposed to pathogens and insects and some-times is damaged by natural disasters such as bush fires, cyclones, floods, etc. Maintenance of germplasm in the field gene banks is costly affair. Advantages It provides opportunities for continuous evaluation for various economic characters. It can be directly utilized in the breeding programme .  

Field Gene Banks in INDIA:

Field Gene Banks in INDIA Location/ Centre Plant Species Holdings Issapur , NewDelhi Low chilling and minor fruits 305 Shimla HP Temperate fruits species, species of Rosaceae 800 CAZRI, Jodhpur Arid zone multipurpose trees, Jojoba, Jatropha, Acacias 350 Thrissur KR Banana, Jackfruit, Pepper, Root and Rhizomatous crops (8 Perennial ssp.) 539 Shilong , MEGA Banana, Guava, Ornamentals, Citrus, Passion Fruit 71 Himalayan Zone Fruits and Herbal ssp. 74 Lakhnow , UP Tamarind, Jamun, Bael, Jackfruit and other Medicinal plant ssp. 400 Bhowali Medicinal plant ssp. 261


CRYOPRESERVATION Cryopreservation involves storage of plant material at low temp. ( -196 °C) , in liquid nitrogen or nitrogen vapor ( -154 to -196 °C) . At this temperature the cell division and metabolic processes stop. Thus plant material can be stored for longer period without alteration. Cryopreservation of those species that can easily be regenerated into whole plants is a promising option for the safe, long-term storage of germplasm. Cryopreservation requires limited space, involves very little maintenance and is considered to be a cost-effective option.


MERISTEM GENE BANKS For conservation of meristem cultures, meristem or shoot tip banks are established. Germplasm of asexually propagated species can be conserved in the form of meristem. Widely used for conservation and propagation of horticultural species. In vitro method can be used in two ways. storage of tissues under slow growth conditions. long-term conservation of germplasm by cryo -preservation.


POLLEN STORAGE/POLLEN GENE BANKS Pollen storage was mainly developed as a tool for controlled pollination of asynchronous flowering plants especially fruit free species.   Advantage The relatively small quantity of the specimen required for a single accession. Exchange of germplasm through pollen possesses fewer quarantine problems compared with seed or other propagules. Disadvantage Pollen storage alone cannot conserve the cytoplasmic genetic diversity of a species. There is need to assess the potential drawbacks of excluding maternal genes and feasibility of ovule storage and in-vitro fertilization techniques. In addition effective sample techniques to cover a population or gene pool are needed.

Tissue culture conservation :

Tissue culture conservation


DNA STORAGE / DNA GENE BANKS Storage of DNA is in principle, simple to carry out and widely applicable in the lab. Genetic engineering has broken down the crossability barriers. Transgenic plants incorporating genes from virus, bacteria, fungi and even mice are reality now. Such efforts have lead to storage of total genomic information of germplasm in the form of DNA libraries. However, strategies and procedures have to be developed on how to use the material stored in the form of DNA. Therefore, the role and value of this method for PGR conservation is not completely clear yet.

Home Gardens:

Home Gardens Home gardens conservation is similar to on-farm conservation but the scale is much smaller. Home gardens tend to contain a wide spectrum of species, such as vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants and species. Home gardens, as a single unit has very little value in terms of conservation, but a community of them in a given area may contribute significantly to the conservation and direct use of genetic diversity. Most of such diversity could be somewhat unique/rare, as the people tend to grow unique materials in their gardens and also under utilized or undomesticated species. However, the system is vulnerable to change in management practices. Home gardens are also known as testing grounds for farmers for some of the wild and semi-wild species. Thus the Home gardens will continue to play a role in genetic diversity conservation as well as development .

Botanical Gardens:

Botanical Gardens Botanical gardens aims at maintaining essential ecological processes and life support systems preserve genetic diversity and ensure sustainable utilization of species and ecosystem. The role of most Botanical gardens in conserving intra species diversity is limited because most of these conserve only a few accessions per species or taxon. However, these play a greater role in public awareness and education. Botanical gardens are mainly used to display a great number of different and exotic species. There is a possibility that a few well managed gardens lay emphasis on conservation of certain group of species as living collections.

Herbal Gardens:

Herbal Gardens Herbal gardens resemble botanical gardens except that these maintain medicinal and aromatic plants. Herbal gardens are getting more importance these days because medicinal and aromatic plant group is most threatened due to their over-exploitation in natural conditions.

NBPGR New Delhi:

NBPGR New Delhi

Svalbard Seed Bank, Norway:

Svalbard Seed Bank, Norway To preserve gene diversity of major food crops, international Institutions have established a series of green gene banks , which store samples of genetic material of various strains of each plant species . Svalbard Seed Bank is meant as a sort of safety net, a reserve of last resort and the vault functions like a genetic safety deposit box. It stores duplicate specimens from gene banks worldwide and while the Svalbard seed bank owns the building , the individual depositor owns the contents of his or her box and the access to individual specimens is regulated by their respective depositors . The Svalbard Global Seed Vault on February 26, 2008 with the construction of the vault financed entirely by Norwegian Government. The operational cost is currently shared by Norway and the Global Crop Diversity Trust.


The seed bank is located in an old copper mine on remote northern island of Spitsbergen, Norway.


The facility currently has a capacity to conserve 4.5 million seed samples. With approximately 1.5 million distinct seed samples of agricultural crops thought to exist, the Svalbard Seed Bank can store roughly three of each sample. Under the current temperature conditions in the vault ( temperatures similar to those in a kitchen freezer) the seed samples can remain viable to begin new crops for anywhere from 2000 to 20,000 years .

On farm conservation:

On farm conservation On farm conservation involves the maintenance of traditional crop cultivars (land races) by farmers within traditional agricultural system. It is based on the recognition that farmers have improved and grown genetic diversity. This process will still continue among many farmers in spite of social economic and technical changes. Farmers should be encouraged to continue their land races by agricultural development policies that enhance incentives to continue to maintain land races. Given the role of farmers on farm conservation, meeting development goals such as increased farm income is critical. In a recent conclusion study by NBPGR with IRRI, Philippines and GKV, Raipur in Baster area of MP suggested that on farm conservation of rice genetic resources is a compliment to ex-situ conservation in tribal area of Baster Plateau which can be motivated for maintaining crop diversity provided it is a viable option and for strengthening the farmer's assess to diversity. conservation


Conservation Vegetativaly propagated crops

Conservation Vegetativaly propagated crops:

Conservation Vegetativaly propagated crops


References Maxted , N., J.G. Hawkes, B.V. Ford-Lloyd and J.T. Williams. 1997 . A practical model for in situ genetic conservation complementary conservation strategies. Pp. 339-367 in Plant Genetic Conservation: The In Situ Approach (N. Maxted , B.V. Ford-Lloyd and J.G. Hawkes, eds.). Chapman and Hall, London. Harlan, J.R. 1975. Crops and Man. First Edition. American Society of Agronomy and Crop Science Society of America, Madison, Wisconsin. HD Upadhyaya , CLL Gowda and DVSSR Sastry , 2008. Plant genetic resources management: collection, characterization, conservation and utilization, An Open Access Journal published by ICRISAT, INDIA. http://

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