Chilling out for conservation
CGIAR genebanks are using cryopreservation for the long-term conservation of crops which can’t be stored as seeds. Cryopreservation, storing materials in liquid nitrogen, ensures the long-term conservation of crops that cannot be conserved as seeds, because they are vegetatively propagated or have recalcitrant seeds. Some well-known examples are potato, sweetpotato, banana, yam, cassava, taro and garlic. Such crops are most often conserved as live plants in the field or in vitro, but this makes them particularly vulnerable to contamination or infection with pests and diseases.
Despite the challenges, CGIAR genebanks are making great progress in improving and scaling up cryopreservation activities.