Gene banks are a type of biorepository which preserve genetic material. For plants, this could be by freezing cuttings from the plant, or stocking the seeds (e.g. in a seedbank). For animals, this is the freezing of sperm and eggs in zoological freezers until further need. With corals, fragments are taken which are stored in water tanks under controlled conditions.
Plant genetic material in a 'gene bank' is preserved at -196° Celsius in Liquid Nitrogen as mature seed (dry).
In plants, it is possible to unfreeze the material and propagate it, however, in animals, a living female is required for artificial insemination. While it is often difficult to use frozen animal sperm and eggs, there are many examples of it being done successfully.
In an effort to conserve agricultural biodiversity, gene banks are used to store and conserve the plant genetic resources of major crop plants and their crop wild relatives. There are many gene banks all over the world, with the Svalbard Global Seed Vault being probably the most famous one.
The database of the largest gene banks in the world can be queried via a common website, Genesys.
Types of gene banks
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A seedbank preserves dried seeds by storing them at a very low temperature. Spores and pteridophytes are conserved in seed banks, but other seedless plants, such as tubercrops cannot be preserved this way. The largest seed bank in world is the Millennium Seed Bank housed at the Wellcome Trust Millennium Building (WTMB), located in the grounds of Wakehurst Place in West Sussex, near London.
In this technique buds, protocorm and meristematic cells are conserved through particular light and temperature arrangements in a nutrient medium. This technique is used to preserve seedless plants and plants which reproduce asexually.
In this technique, a seed or embryo is preserved at very low temperatures. It is usually preserved in liquid nitrogen at -196°C. This is helpful for the conservation of species facing extinction.
This is a method in which pollen grains are stored. We can make plants which are facing extinction in the present world. Using this technique, we can make plants with one set chromosome.
Field gene bank
This is a method of planting plants for the conservation of genes. For this purpose we construct ecosystem artificially. Through this method one can compare the difference among plants of different species and can study it in detail. It needs more land, adequate soil, weather, etc.. Germ plasma of important crops are conserved through this method. 42,000 varieties of rice are conserved in the Central Rice Research Institute in Orissa.
- AEGIS A European Genebank Integrated System
- The Crop Genebank Knowledge Base
- Israel Gene Bank
- Fragmentation used with coral gene banks
- "GeneBank Entry in re3data.org". www.re3data.org. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- Drori, Jonathan (posted May 2009, filmed February 2009). "Why we're storing billions of seeds". TED2009. TED. Retrieved 2011-12-11. Check date values in:
- "Cryo bank". CGIAR Genetic Resources Systems: Phase 2. Collective Action for the Rehabilitation of Global Public Goods. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
- Ellis, R.H., T.D. Hong and E.H. Roberts (1985). Handbook of Seed Technology for Genebanks Vol. II: Compendium of Specific Germination Information and Test Recommendations. IBPGR (now Bioversity International). Rome, Italy.
- Engels, J.M.M. and L. Visser, editors. (2003). A Guide to Effective Management of Germplasm Collections. CABI, IFPRI, IPGRI, SGRP. 174 p.
- Kameswara, N., J. Hanson, M. E. Dulloo, K. Ghosh, A. Nowell and M. Larinde. (2006). Manual of Seed Handling in Genebanks. Bioversity International, CTA (Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation), FAO, ILRI. 147 p.
- Koo, B., Pardey, P. G., Wright, B. D.; et al. (2004). Saving Seeds. CABI, IFPRI, IPGRI, SGRP.