Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2004
Publication Date: February 20, 2004
Citation: Walters, C. 2004. Principles for Preserving Germplasm in Genebanks. pp.113-138. In E. Guerrant, K. Havens and M. Maunder (eds) Ex Situ Plant Conservation: Supporting Species Survival in the Wild. Island Press, Covela, CA. Interpretive Summary: This book chapter describes the basic principles guiding preservation technology in ex situ genebanks. The chapter describes why reducing temperature and water content are expected to increase longevity of seeds and the limitations to longevity.
Technical Abstract: Genebanks are an ex situ conservation strategy designed to capture and conserve genetic diversity within and among species. In genebanks, germplasm is placed in suspended animation so that desirable allelic combinations and rare alleles of a species are available in the future. Plant germplasm is really a collection of propagules: seeds or pollen to preserve the genetic composition of populations, and cuttings, buds, rhizomes or cell cultures to preserve specific genetic combinations of individuals. Most genebanks have a completely utilitarian goal: plant breeders use collections to make higher-yielding, more resistant crops and ecologists preserve threatened populations until they can be reintroduced into restored habitats. Whether for agricultural or landscape management purposes, genetic diversity is required for a species to establish and adapt to a changing environment.