China builds cutting-edge germplasm resource center for biodiversity conservation

Scientists froze 100 million seeds of staple crops.
Nergis Firtina
Plant in lab.
Plant in lab.


Inside the space station, scientists froze 100 million seeds of staple crops and saved genetic profiles of all known plant and animal species.

China is constructing a number of genetic resource banks with the purpose of preserving the diversity of species in the real world, where the increasing loss of germplasm resources has become a particularly pressing concern, according to Xinhua.

The Tianjin Agricultural Germplasm Resources Bank recently received more than 500 new germplasm resources, researcher Wang Lu was working there on an analysis of the germination rate and water content of corn and soybean seeds.

The crop germplasm resources are cultivated plant genetic materials with genetic functions, which play an important role in both food security and original innovation of agricultural science and technology, said Lan Qingkuo, deputy director of the Institute of Germplasm Resources and Biotechnology under the Tianjin Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

"There are eight different banks in which agricultural germplasm resources are conserved in a low-temperature and constant humidity environment," noted Wang, while packing the seeds in different aluminum foil bags with two-dimensional codes.

"The seeds' information, including types and sources, can be quickly read after scanning codes, providing great convenience for follow-up research work," Wang added.

Species extinction is an urgent universal problem

According to Cui Shuhong, a representative of the nation's Ministry of Ecology and Environment, species extinction is currently a serious global issue. Crop diversity has decreased by 75 percent since the turn of the 20th century, as per The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

Even though some older cultivars of various crops had low yields and weak resilience, people liked them for their flavor. If these germplasm resources can be preserved effectively, they can support future cross-breeding of novel varieties with enticing flavors and high yields as well as scientific endeavors like genotype identification and species evolution research.

"On the basis of extensive collection of germplasm resources, we will be able to deeply analyze its genotype and phenotype data in the future, and employ big data and biological breeding technology to combine traits and genes to design and cultivate new seeds that meet specific needs," Lan said.

According to Lan, the nation's germplasm resource banks will concentrate on conserving germplasm resources and advancing scientific inquiry and innovation, which will help to preserve genetic variety and promote sustainable development.

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