Since more than 90% of genebank accessions globally are stored in the form of seed, seed longevity is of particular importance for crop germplasm preservation. At the IPK, research has been initiated for a range of crop species. We have detected variation for this trait both between crop species, and between accessions of the same species. For the genetic analysis of seed longevity, we have applied accelerated ageing tests based on International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) protocols. In addition to exploiting conventional bi-parental mapping populations, we have also been exploring the value of association genetics approaches, which can be used to compare seed lots which have been stored over varying lengths of time (‘natural ageing’ panels). In addition to these genetic studies, seed material is also used for various physiological and biochemical surveys (in co-operation with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK and the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, Fort Collins, USA).