Crop Genebank Knowledge Base

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Crops Rice Conservation Registration

Registration of cultivated rice, wild rice and related genera genetic resources

Contributors to this page: T.T. Chang Genetic Resources Centre-IRRI, Los Baños, Philippines (Ruaraidh Sackville Hamilton, Ken McNally, Flora de Guzman, Renato Reaño, Soccie Almazan, Adelaida Alcantara, Elizabeth Naredo); WARDA, Cotonou, Benin (Ines Sánchez); UPLB-University of the Philippines at Los Baños (Teresita Borromeo).

Verifying accompanying documentation

A minimal documentation is essential to track germplasm material. Health and IPR certificates are very important for entry into the country. The following documents should accompany each consignment of plant germplasm:

  • An appropriate Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) or other contract must be used for all acquisitions (preferably the SMTA where possible. It is essential to know conditions of conservation and use, and the rights and obligations of donor and receiving genebank).
  • Phytosanitary certificate from the donor (if required by the laws of the country of the receiving genebank).
  • Import permit (if required by the laws of the country of the receiving genebank).
  • GMO declaration (avoiding the unintentional presence of transgenes in supposedly non-transgenic germplasm is becoming of increasing concern to many countries. A declaration of the measures taken by the donor is now considered desirable for GM risk management by the receiving genebank, and to enable it to make required GMO declarations to subsequent recipients).
  • List of germplasm samples in the consignment.
  • Associated passport data, preferably in the multi-crop passport descriptors (MCPD) format, preferably electronically.
  • Other associated available, non-confidential descriptive data, preferably electronically.

Verifying the consignment

This is the accession of new samples into the collection before formal registration (additional tests and procedures that must be completed before the sample can be considered fully accessed into the collection, safely conserved and available for distribution).

Checking the genebank

This is important to verify the legitimacy of the material, to avoid the introduction of new pests and diseases and the storing of dead material, as well as to assure that only seeds that appear in good condition and have a high probability of being viable are registered.

  • The next criterion to accept new material in the genebank should be to check if the same material is already present.
  • Passport data and phenotype descriptors-characterization data must be used for verification of the possible duplicates as a first step.

Checking the content

This is very important to avoid conserving duplicates and to have complete information on genebank accessions. This data enhances the value of the germplasm.

  • Check the accompanying papers of the consignment: seed list, passport and other associated data, phytosanitary certificate and import permit.
  • Check the seeds and compare the labels on seed packets with those in the accompanying seed list.
  • Note discrepancies, missing data, missing samples.
  • Send the donor a letter of acknowledgment stating date of receipt, status of seeds and, if necessary, requesting clarification of any discrepancy.
  • File a copy of the seed list and other accompanying documents.
  • Release seeds and documents to the genebank with recommendations on the appropriate health protocol.

Checking the germplasm

  • Take the consignment to the authorized quarantine laboratory for post entry quarantine inspection.
  • Test viability of the newly received seeds:
    • If the sample is too small for a standard germination test, reduce the number of seeds used for the test.
    • If the sample is small or the viability is low, retain the germinated seeds and use them to plant a regeneration plot at the earliest possible date.
  • If sufficient original seed is still available, put aside a small sample (about 20 seeds) as the ‘seed file’. (‘Seed file’ is a small subsample of seed – preferably original seed, otherwise seed from the first successful multiplication-set aside to serve as the definitive reference sample of the accession, against which all new harvests of the same accession are compared). The seed should be kept dry and free from pests and diseases, but easily accessible for cross-referencing with new harvests.
  • Complete all procedures (as described for sample processing of cultivated or wild rice) on the initial seed to multiply, clean and dry until the samples have been fully processed and are ready to be stored for conservation and made available for use, with a reference seed sample set aside in the seed file. Repeat cycles of viability testing for cultivated or wild rice and regeneration of cultivated or wild rice as often as necessary to produce enough seed for conservation and use, or until all the original seed has been used.

Assigning Numbers

When is the moment to assign an accession ID? There are no common agreed standards but there are generally two options:

  • Option 1: assign an accession ID as soon as a sample is received by a genebank, before it has been truly accessed into the collection. In this case, many accessions will never become active accessions as they may be rejected for any number of reasons – duplication, policy, failure of donor to comply with required legal and other procedures, rejection of SMTA by recipient, health/quarantine problems, problems of contamination or mislabelling, viability problems, regeneration problems, throughput bottlenecks.
  • Option 2: assign an accession ID only after the sample has been fully accessed into the collection i.e. all initial checks have been passed and sufficient healthy seed is produced to be sure the sample can be conserved and distributed. In this case, there will be very few non-active accessions, but incoming samples will need to be assigned a temporary ID in order to track their progress through the initial tests and other processes.
  • IRRI operates and suggests the second option.

Advantages of second option:

It facilitates tracking of samples through the initial process of accessing a sample into the collection.

It also facilitates the distinction, for performance monitoring purposes, between the loss of fully-accessed samples (a serious problem) and failure to complete the process of accessing them into the collection (a common feature with samples received in poor condition- this is not related to genebank performance).

Disadvantages of second option:

It requires the use of a second, temporary ID for tracking progress through the initial process of accessing the incoming sample into the collection.

On successful completion of the above described procedures, the incoming seed have been fully accessed into the collection; assign an accession ID now.

  • If any original seeds remain after completing these procedures, keep them to be conserved in ideal conditions in the long-term store as the ‘Most Original Sample’, separate from the standard samples of the base collection.
  • Assign Seed Lot IDs to seed lots to be conserved in the active and base collections. (‘Seed Lot ID’ is used when one accession will undergo a number of generations of seed multiplication / regeneration; and each generation comprises a number of different packets of seed serving different purposes. In order to track progress through generations and monitor the location and status of each packet, it is necessary to be able to identify each seed lot of each generation separately – the Seed Lot ID enables this tracking)
  • Prepare labels as described below and finally pack prepared cleaned seed in labelled seed packets for the seed file, active collection, base collection, MOS and safety backup collections.

Recording information during registration

The following information must be recorded for each consignment:

  • Incoming consignment ID.
  • Data associated with consignment: date of receipt, donor, number of samples, details of MTA or other contract and other documents.
  • Temporary identifier (not accession ID) for each germplasm sample (accession IDs will be assigned after the seeds have been completely processed for conservation and distribution. Until then, temporary IDs are needed to document progress in processing, testing and initial seed multiplication).
  • All received passport and associated descriptive characters for each sample.
  • Data for monitoring progress through initial testing and processing: seed health tests, seed viability tests, initial seed multiplication.
  • Amount of remnant original seed still available for testing and processing.

References and further reading

Bioversity International, IRRI and WARDA. 2007. Descriptors for wild and cultivated rice (Oryza spp.). Bioversity International, Rome, Italy; International Rice Research Institute, Los Banos, Philippines; WARDA, Africa Rice Center, Contonou, Benin. Available here. (1.2 MB).

FAO/IPGRI. 1994. Genebank standards. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome and International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome. Available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic.

Standard Material Transfer Agreement (SMTA). [online] Available from: Date accessed: 15 July 2013. 

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International Agricultural Research Centres who worked together to make this site possible:
Africa Rice Center | Bioversity International | CIAT | CIMMYT | CIP | ICARDA | ICRISAT | IFPRI | IITA | ILRI | IRRI |

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