At the IPK genebank, cryopreservation is routinely used to preserve vegetatively propagated plant material. Here, meristematic tissues, pollen and plant embryos are dissected and stored at -196°C in liquid nitrogen. This ultra-low temperature is assumed to inhibit all metabolic processes and extent indefinitely cell vitality.
A wide range of methods has been developed and can be distinguished into slow and fast freezing protocols. For cryopreservation of plant tissues and organs fast freezing methods are superior due to high efficiency and reduced ice formation during handling. At IPK, these are represented by different vitrification methods applied for potato, mint and Allium.
The Gatersleben cryobank comprises currently about 2,029 accessions, which are backed up in external storages (Effective 31th October 2018). Though cryopreservation is worldwide successfully applied in genebanks, cellular processes and mechanism are insufficiently understood and enable multi-disciplinary research activities.