Gene Bank

Gene Bank a place where plants or plant materials are preserved to conserve the germplasm. Gene banks can be either ex situ, where seeds or plant parts are preserved outside their area of growth, or in situ, where plants, including wild relatives of crops, are maintained in natural preserves. Gene banks contain plants preserved in seed form or in outside plots, known as field gene banks. Research is now being conducted on storing some plants in tissue culture form in glass containers (in vitro) to save space and reduce costs. To find a means to store vegetative materials for extended periods, cryopreservation experiments are being conducted in which tissue cultures are held at -196BAC. Some specialized gene banks also house collections of genetic stocks, such as mutants. Plants preserved in seed form belong to two classes: those with orthodox seeds that can be dried to moisture levels of between 4 and 6 percent and then can be kept at temperatures as low as -20BAC, and those with recalcitrant seeds that do not survive drying and freezing. Crops that do not produce seed, or those with recalcitrant seeds, are typically stored in field gene banks. Genes, contained in living organisms, are the information blueprint for all biological life and are responsible for the characteristics of plants, animals, and microbes. A genotype is the distinct and unique combination of genes in an organism, and gene banks are currently the only place where plant genotypes are systematically stored.

In 1974 International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR) was established under the auspices of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which funds a network of International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs). Since IBPGR was created, a great deal of progress has been made towards the organisation of a global network of genetic resources centres, and a large number of germplasm collecting missions have been carried out. IBPGR has had a dramatic catalytic effect upon conservation efforts of scientists and agricultural centres throughout the world.

Systematic germplasm conservation in Bangladesh was initiated in mid 1970s at bangladesh rice research institute (BRRI). Later, bangladesh agricultural research institute (BARI), and bangladesh jute research institute (BJRI) joined in. International Jute Organisation and BJRI now have a global collection of germplasm of jute and allied fibre crops. In BRRI, a gene bank was established in 1974. Up till now, about 7,500 varieties have been collected and preserved in the gene bank from indigenous and exotic sources. Out of these, nearly 5,000 varieties have been registered in the gene bank. A modern gene bank was established at BRRI with storing and processing facilities with the assistance of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 1985. In the present system, the storage for the active collection remains in the same condition as before, but the medium term storage system was improved from the walk-in type to a unit refrigerator system.

A duplicate set of BRRI germplasm is maintained at the Genetic Resources Centre (GRC) at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Philippines, for safe keeping and long-term storage as the base collection. Bangladesh has easy access to the IRRI gene bank for germplasm exchanges with BRRI and IRRI.

The gene bank at BJRI has been functioning as the centralized Germplasm Repository (CGR) of the International Jute Organisation (IJO) and the designated global repository for jute and allied fibres of the International Plant Genetics Resources Institute (IPGRI). A total of 2005 accessions were received from the IJO. At present, there are about 5936 accessions maintained in the gene bank at BJRI in its base storage at-20BAC. A minimal descriptors list developed by the IJO has been followed for characterization and evaluation of these germplasms. The cotton development board (CDB) of the country has a total of about 403 accessions of cotton germplasms.

In BARI, collection and utilization of land races of pulses and oilseeds were initiated during early 1950s, wheat around mid sixties, and of minor cereals around late seventies by the respective Crop Research Centres and Plant Breeding Division of that institute. Vegetables, roots, tuber crops, and spices are also preserved at BARI. Records show that in Bangladesh there are about 817 fruits germplasms preserved at the farms of BARI, the Directorate of Agricultural Extension, and bangladesh agricultural development corporation as field gene banks. In contrast, forest genetic resources are preserved according to two approaches: in situ categories such as national parks, managed nature resources, multiple-use management, etc and ex situ categories such as preservation plots, clonal banks, arboretum, etc. Various botanical gardens of the country also serve as field gene banks. At present, a total of about 320 clonal and seed stalks of beverage crops such as tea and coffee are maintained at the bangladesh tea research institute. More than 10,000 accessions are now stored at BARI's gene bank.

In bangladesh sugarcane research institute (BSRI), all the germplasm collections are conserved in the field. Out of about 912 accessions, 150 germplasms are in separate breeding gardens. Genetic erosion of sugarcane is a serious problem in Bangladesh. At BSRI, germplasms are mainly used in the introduction of new varieties, mutation breeding, and for the development of parent materials. [Md Serajul Islam]

See also bangladesh agriculture research institute.