Botanical Reference Collections in the IPK
The Gatersleben Herbarium (GAT) in the Department of Genebank of the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) contains a representative 430,000 specimens’ collection of cultivated plants and its wild relatives from extratropical regions. It is one of the largest of such special herbaria in the world and serves as an essential source of reference and working material for the reproduction of genebank accessions and various IPK research activities. Furthermore the Gatersleben Herbarium takes part in the international loan and exchange network of botanical collections and can be used by German and foreign specialists.
The comprehensive Seed and Fruit Collection (105,000 samples) and the Spike Collection (55,000 samples) are closely connected as well with the conservation of and research in plant genetic resources at Gatersleben. They are also available to external scientists as reference collections for the identification of plants or plant remains.
Some years ago electronic documentation of selected specimens had been started for online access via internet as part of the German contribution to Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. These activities have been intensified by an ongoing project founded by the German Research Foundation (DFG): “Indexing and digitization of the herbarium of wild and cultivated plants of IPK Gatersleben” (IPK Journal 22(2013)1, 12). Cooperating closely with the Museum of Natural History, Vienna, further herbarium scans connected with standardized collecting and nomenclatural data are provided continuousely via an international database system (JACQ Virtual Herbaria Portal). By improved methods in DNA analysis herbarium specimens become suitable for investigations of molecular genetics.