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National Gene Bank

National Gene Bank

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare inaugurated the world’s second-largest refurbished state-of-the-art National Gene Bank at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR).
  • Gene Banks are a type of biorepository which preserve genetic material. A collection of seed plants, tissue cultures etc.
  • A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Genes are made up of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA).

National Gene Bank

  • The National Gene Bank was established in the year 1996 to preserve the seeds of Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) for future generations.
  • It has the capacity to preserve about one million germplasm in the form of seeds.
  • Presently it is protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are Indian germplasm and the rest have been imported from other countries.
  • National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources is meeting the need of in-situ and ex-situ germplasm conservation through Delhi Headquarters and 10 regional stations in the country.

Significance

  • Researchers or farmers can withdraw samples from these “gene” banks to help rebuild populations of rare plant varieties and animal breeds or to help increase genetic diversity within species.
  • Gene banks also preserve cells or organisms that host unusual gene variants — genes with special traits. Those genes might later prove useful when some disease epidemic strikes, when the climate changes or when other factors threaten the survival of plants or animals.
  • Farmers could use the banked deposits — stored cells or tissues — to restore genetic diversity or to introduce traits from other breeds or varieties.

Functions Of This Gene Bank

The NGB has four types of conservation facilities to meet long-term and medium-term needs:

  • Seed Gene Bank (-18°C),
  • Cryo Gene Bank (-170°C to -196°C),
  • In Vitro Gene Bank (25°C), and
  • Field Gene Bank (-18°C)
  • It holds a variety of crops, including grains, millets, medicinal and fragrant plants, and drugs, among others.

Other Facilities Are Available For Gene Restoration

  • The world’s largest seed collection is housed in Norway’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
  • Chang La (Ladakh) in the Himalayas houses India’s seed vault.
  • The National Animal Gene Bank, based at the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources in Karnal, Haryana, was founded with the goal of preserving indigenous livestock biodiversity.
  • NBAGR is a research centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Plant Genetic Resources

  • They are the biological basis of food security and, directly or indirectly, support the livelihoods of every person on Earth.
  • They have been defined as the genetic material of plants, which is of value as a resource for present and future generations of people.
  • They are any plant materials, such as seeds, fruits, cuttings, pollen, and other organs and tissues from which plants can be grown.
  • They have an important role to play to ensure food security. They have been the foundation for the development of agriculture ever since it started 10,000 years ago.

National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR)

  • It is a nodal organisation for management of plant genetic resources in India and functions under the control of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • It is conserving seed germplasm for long-term conservation (at -20°C) in its National Genebank (NGB).
  • It plans, organizes, conducts and coordinates exploration and collection of indigenous and exotic plant genetic resources. It is headquartered in New Delhi and has 10 regional stations.

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