Arctic's Global Seed Vault To Receive 101 Samples From Warwick's Vegetable Genebank

(Svalbard Global Seed Vault photo)

  • The UK Vegetable Genebank (UKVGB) at the University of Warwick is to make their first deposit at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Norway on Oct. 31
  • They will deposit 101 seed samples from different crop species including carrot, cauliflower, and onions
  • The UKVGB is the second UK gene bank to sign the depositor agreement

(October 30, 2018) - 101 seed samples from 18 different types of crop species including onions, carrots and cauliflower are to be deposited at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Arctic Norway on Oct. 31, 2018, from the UK Vegetable Genebank (UKVGB) at the University of Warwick.

The UK Vegetable Genebank (UKVGB) at the University of Warwick manages a collection of approximately 14,000 samples of vegetable crops such as cauliflower, carrot, kale, and onions.

Their first seed deposit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault contains 101 seed samples from 18 different crop species, among these onions, lettuce, carrots and different kinds of brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, etc.).

The seeds originally came from all over the world (21 different countries), ranging from Japan to South Africa to Sweden. 31 accessions originate from the UK, including Cornwall, Tyne and Wear, Worcestershire and Glamorgan.

The seeds are underway to Svalbard and will be brought into the Seed Vault on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

The seed vault is in Arctic Norway, the Vault is the ultimate insurance policy for the world’s food supply, offering options for future generations to overcome the challenges of climate change and population growth. They hope to secure, for centuries, millions of seeds representing important crop variety available in the world today. It is the final back up.

Like in other countries, concerns over loss of genetic diversity in crops in the late 1970s initiated gene bank activities at the then National Vegetable Research Station (now the Wellesbourne Campus of the University of Warwick).

The gene bank opened in 1980, and the IBPGR (International Board for Plant Genetic Resources, now Bioversity International) designated the UK Vegetable Genebank as a base collection within the global network for a number of outbreeding vegetable crops including alliums, brassicas, carrot, radish and minor salads.

The UKVGB plays an active role in UK and international networks and is active in research and breeding projects aimed at the development of new vegetable varieties such at the Vegetable Genetic Improvement Network. Each year seed samples from the UKVGB are distributed to users both nationally and overseas. The UKVGB is an active member of ECPGR (the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources).

The seed collection at UKVGB is conserved at -18 oC, which is in accordance with FAO Gene Bank standards and the same conditions as in the Seed Vault. Seed accessions deposited in Svalbard are also duplicated at the Centre for Genetic Resources in the Netherlands.

UKVGB is the second UK gene bank to secure seeds in the Seed Vault. The first one was James Hutton Institute that deposited samples from the Commonwealth Potato Collection in 2017.

Dr Guy Barker, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick comments,“Conserving crop genetic diversity is really important to ensure we all have access to nutritious food. By sending some of our seeds to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault we’re adding a further level of ‘back-up’ to safeguard our collection for the future."

Regeneration. (University of Warwick photos)

Germination test.

A box is loaded to bring samples to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.