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CGIAR Genebank Platform

The CGIAR genebanks continued to innovate in 2021 with new efforts to adapt advanced technologies for use in genebank management, including smart labeling to track accessions, high-throughput imaging for seed quality management and new genetic markers to aid taxonomic identification and lead users to useful diversity.

At A Glance

The Genebank Platform provided technical and financial support and oversight to the CGIAR genebanks, as a core component of a global system for the conservation of crop diversity.

  • PROJECT TITLE: CGIAR Genebank Platform
  • HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2021: Two genebanks have reached performance targets and are set to become eligible for long-term partnership agreements with the Crop Trust; Action plans have been implemented by each genebank to address recommendations from technical reviews and improve genebank resilience after pandemic lockdowns; the new monthly “GROW” webinar was launched provoking discussions on topical issues and attracting an audience of several hundred; CGIAR and national genebanks worked towards the development and adoption of one data management system, GRIN-Global Community Edition; fund-raising for a Global Plant Cryopreservation Initiative is under way.

“Although it’s the end of the Platform, it’s not the end of the Crop Trust and CGIAR collaboration. In fact, in so many respects we have only just begun!”

Charlotte Lusty CGIAR Genebank Platform Project Coordinator

In 2021, CGIAR genebanks implemented action plans to address the recommendations that came out of the second phase of external review, which took place between 2018 and 2020. These included efforts to improve data management, pilot dormancy breaking techniques in crop wild relatives, improve long-term conservation facilities, reduce redundancy in seed samples and streamline viability monitoring procedures. Progress in dealing with processing backlogs and safety duplication means that seed collections in at least two CGIAR centers are on track to reach performance targets in 2022, and so will be eligible for long-term partnership agreements with the Crop Trust. 

The Platform launched a monthly webinar series to provoke discussion on topical issues, such as the impact of CRISPR technology on genebanks. The 2020 cohort of “Genebank Impact Fellows” continued work on their case studies, to be published in an upcoming special issue of CABI Agriculture and Bioscience. CGIAR genebanks also began to trial the new GRIN-Global Community Edition software package, developed by the Crop Trust, in anticipation of adopting a single genebank data management system. 

Despite the Platform’s closure, the commitment of the Crop Trust to continue its close partnership with CGIAR and provide long-term funding and technical support to its genebanks remains steadfast.

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