GS Paper 3
Topics Covered: Biotechnology related issues.
The world’s second-largest refurbished state-of-the-art National Gene Bank was inaugurated recently at the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), Pusa, New Delhi.
What are Gene Banks?
People save money in banks, in case of an emergency. Genetic banks serve a similar purpose for farmers and scientists who work to conserve rare plants and animals.
- 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.
About the National Gene Bank:
- Established in 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.
- It stores different crop groups such as cereals, millets, medicinal and aromatic plants and narcotics, etc.
- Presently, the National Gene Bank has been protecting 4.52 lakh accessions, of which 2.7 lakh are the Indian germplasm while the rest have been imported from other countries.
NGB has four kinds of facilities to cater to long-term as well as medium-term conservation namely:
- Seed Gene bank (- 18°C).
- Cryo gene bank (-170°C to -196°C).
- In-vitro Gene bank (25°C).
- Field Gene bank.
Why is there a need for Gene Bank?
It will make the farmers of the country self-reliant and the government has been making every effort in that direction.
Did you know that the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) functions under the control of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). Look out for similar organizations which function under ICAR. Reference, read this.
Did you know that the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway houses the world’s largest collection of seeds?
Sources: the Hindu.