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Department of Genebank

Head: [link]Prof. Dr. Andreas Graner

Secretary: [link]Heike Ballhausen

Research Field: Management, analysis and utilization of plant genetic resources 

The federal ex-situ collection of agricultural and horticultural plants forms the core of the department, which is structured into three programmes, Characterization & Documentation, Management & Evaluation, and Taxonomy & Evolution. 


The mandate of the Genebank comprises the collection, conservation, and distribution of plant genetic resources (PGR). With a total inventory of 151.002 accessions from 3.212 plant species and 776 genera, the IPK-Genebank holds one of the most comprehensive collections worldwide and provides a major contribution to the prevention of extinction (genetic erosion) of both cultivated plants and their related wild species. Satellite collections of the gene bank are situated in Groß Lüsewitz and Malchow/Poel (Mecklenburg-West Pommerania). A substantial part of the collection is stored as seeds at temperatures of –18°C. Vegetatively propagated material is conserved either by permanent field culture or through in vitro cultures and/or cryo-conservation under liquid nitrogen. As an international information centre for taxonomy of cultivated plants, the Genebank possesses comprehensive reference collections including a herbarium with more than 400.000 samples.


Material transfer in 2011 broken down into crops. More than 770.000 samples have been distributed since 1952

Research activities aim on the one hand at further improvements in the management of the collection. These include the optimisation of in vitro and cryo-conservation, the use of DNA fingerprinting technology to monitor the genetic integrity of samples, the investigation of spatio-temporal patterns of genetic diversity, and the analysis of population structures. Internet-based gene bank information systems are being curated and extended to ensure the greatest possible availability of data and information concerning PGR. Research into relationships within plant families (taxonomy and evolution) is concentrated on the balance between conservation and differentiaton within and between species. Fundamental issues of evolutionary biology are also investigated to clarify the connexion between adaptation, speciation and radiation


The second area of research is concerned with the development of strategies and methods for the improved utilisation of PGR with a major focus on cereals. Traditionally, utilisation is based on the phenotypic information, which is collected from the evaluation of individual traits. A complementary approach is based on the use of genetic information to facilitate a targeted selection of PGR. Research activities in this field range from QTL mapping to physical map construction and sequence analysis of the barley genome. Scientists of the department are teaching at the Institute for Agricultural and Food sciences of the [link]Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg.


Further information on the ex situ collection and on the online request of plant genetic resources is available in the [link]genebank information system (GBIS).

The departments Genebank and Administration and Central Services received a DIN EN ISO 9001:2008 certificate in the cause of a successful audit by DQS.


Structure of the Department