Seed Genebank Unit is one of the core Unit of National Center for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB). The Unit is saddled with the responsibilities of acquisition, managing, conservation, distribution, regeneration, characterization and utilization of the orthodox seeds.Orthodox seeds are seeds which will survive drying and / or freezing during ex-situ conservation.
The Seed Genebank at NACGRAB has the following facilities for germplasm conservation and maintenance.
- A short-term storage room at 18oC-20oC and 30-40% relative humility for temporary holding seeds for distribution and regeneration purpose.
- A long-term room at -20oC to 4oC and 10-30% relative humidity.
- Two large deep freezers serving as backups for long-term storage room.
- A Seed Laboratory for conducting seed germination tests and seed technology research.
Sources of germplasm conserved in the genebanks are:
- By donations: Samples can be obtained by correspondence if it is known that diversity in an area of interest was already collected
- By exploration and collection mission
- From agricultural research institutions
- Registering of New Germplasm: This is carried out to allow the genebank Curator to keep a record of samples held in the genebank by assigning each sample a unique accession number which distinguishes it from all other accessions in the genebank. All information received with samples are documented as important part of the registration procedure.
- Seed Processing: This involved cleaning of the seed samples, drying them to optimum moisture levels, testing their germination and packaging them in appropriate containers for conservation and distribution. The Unit is equipped to carry out these operations.
- Seed Storage: this is the maintenance of high seed germination and vigour from harvest until planting. This is also important in maintaining genetic integrity which is the main priority of a genebank Curator. In order to achieve this, NACGRAB maintains its germplasm in two major storage medium. Short and Long-term storage conditions with over 5000 accessions of different species of crops.
- Safety Duplication: Safety duplication ensures that any given collection is securely duplicated at another Institute. NACGRAB as the focal point for genetic resources conservation and use in Nigeria serve as repositories of germplasm of National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARI) in form of safety duplicates. Similarly, as part of the requirement of the collaborative project between NACGRAB and Global Crop Diversity Trust, safety duplicate of the materials collected by the participating National Agricultural Research Institutes (i.e IAR, Zaria and Lake Chad Research Institute) were sent to Svalbard Global Seed Vault and ICRISAT Sahelian Centre, Niamey for safe keeping in the year 2013. NACGRAB successfully sent 423 ,176 and 34 accessions of Sorghum, Cowpea, and Sessane seed respectively to Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. Also, 423 and 167 accessions of Sorghum and Pearl Millet respectively were sent to ICRISAT Sahelian Centre in Niamey.
This involves supply of representative seed samples from the genebank in response to requests from the users. Over the years NACGRAB accessions of different crop species to meet the requirements of her clients mainly researchers. In 2015, 1,556 accessions of 30 crop species were distributed to Scientists, breeders and Research Students from 27 institutions.
This is the renewal of germplasm accessions by sowing and harvesting seeds which will possess the same characteristics as the original population. The Seed Genebank Unit of the Centre periodically carry out regeneration of germplasm due to the following reasons.
- For initial seed increase in case of materials received with insufficient quality of seeds.
- In case of seeds that are of poor quality due to low viability or infections.
- In case of seed accessions that are not in base collection.
Characterisation of germplasm is the prerequisites for utilization of crop improvement. This involves recording of characters and traits which are highly heritable and expressed in all environments. Most of the accessions in the Centre’s seed genebank have been characterized with the use of descriptors developed by IBPGR (now Biodiversity International). while newly required germplasm will be characterized.
It is obvious that in Nigeria there is a wide gap between availability and utilization of the conserved genetic resources. The reason for low use of germplasm include lack of information on a large number of accessions for traits of economic importance and limited capacity breeding programmes to absorb new materials. Efforts are being made to enhance the utilization by identifying trait specific germplasm for use in crop improvement programmes and muiltilocational evaluation of germplasm.