Indian seeds to be stored in Global Seed Vault

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on September 01, 2020

ICRISAT (India) is contributing groundnut, chickpea, pearl millet and pigeonpea seeds for the Global Seed Vault   -  THE HINDU

To be part of a century-old experiment near North Pole

This experiment reads like a sci-fi. How about storing seeds, which the mankind depends on for survival, in a secret place — somewhere near North Pole — to save them in case of apocalypse or an act of god.

India is playing a crucial role in this experiment as the ICRISAT is contributing four seeds to be stored in this 100-year experiment that seeks to test the resilience of seeds. It will provide future generations information about the viability of seeds and the importance of regeneration to keep up with vitality.

Though storing seeds in vaults is not a new concept, this new experiment by preeminent agricultural research institutes across the world is highly interesting.

Testing resilience

Genebanks of six global research institutions including ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics) have begun a 100-year experiment at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in a quest to know how long seeds live.

The secret Global Seed Vault in question is located deep inside a mountain on a remote island in the Svalbard archipelago, which is midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

“The experiment could prove crucial for effective restoration of the world’s food resources someday. Data from seeds of 13 crops, four of which will be provided by ICRISAT’s genebank in India, will be collected during the experiment,” said Vania Azevedo, Head of ICRISAT’s RS Paroda Genebank, in a statement. She added, “ICRISAT will bring seeds of chickpea, groundnut, pearl millet and pigeonpea to the experiment during 2022-23. The seeds will be tested initially before being put in the vault for storage at -18 degree Celsius,”

“They will be taken out for testing once every decade during the course of the next 100 years to determine longevity,” said Azevedo.

In the kick-off event that began on Thursday, the first set of seeds of barley, pea, wheat and lettuce produced by the German genebank IPK in Gatersleben were deposited in the vault.

“Over the next three years, six institutions will be placing seeds of other crops into the vault for the experiment,” said the ICRISAT executive. ICRISAT (India) is contributing groundnut, chickpea, pearl millet and pigeonpea.

Others include National Rice Seed Storage Laboratory for Genetic Resources (Thailand) – rice;Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária (Portugal) – maize; and Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária (Brazil) – soybean.

The researchers will study how long can the seeds can germinate when stored in standard storage norms.

Published on September 01, 2020

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