Germination tests are done through placing seeds on an agar plate.
During several years, NordGen has had a heavy workload which has lead to the fact that the institution has gotten behind on some of its responsibilities. It has become evident that an extra investment is needed. As the ministers for Nordic co-operation met in Iceland on Thursday, they decided to grant this investment – a much welcomed initiative which will lead to an important effort in the conservation of genetic diversity.
“This is wonderful news for us. This money means that we can conserve seeds that are important for our future food production” says Lise Lykke Steffensen, Managing Director of NordGen.
Genetic diversity is a prerequisite for us being able to develop crops that can withstand the challenges climate change put on agriculture. In a gene bank, such as NordGen, the genetic diversity is secured through keeping frozen seeds from about 35 000 different crop varieties. But the seeds can’t stay in the freezers forever. Sooner or later, they will die. A large and important task of gene bank management therefore is to verify that the seeds still can germinate. When the germination rate drops, it’s time to regenerate the seeds – that is, planting them in order to harvest new seeds which can replace the old ones.
For about ten years ago, NordGen was given several large seed donations as many plant breeders went out of business. Since we didn’t have the capacity to tend to all these seeds, we just kept them in our freezers.
“When we now have been granted a total of 10 million DKK, we can finally take care of these seeds in a satisfying way. It’s of immense importance, for both us and future generations”, says Lise Lykke Steffensen.