Saving Hard-to-Conserve Food Crops

Cryopreservation is the key to conserving a number of crops we rely on for our food and agriculture. While most of the world’s food plants, such as rice, maize and wheat, can be conserved as seeds in genebanks, the same cannot be said for some other important crops. Crops like bananas, coffee and potatoes – which do not make seeds (clonal crops) or whose seeds cannot be stored in conventional genebanks (recalcitrant seeds) – are normally conserved in tissue culture or field genebanks instead, but the safest long-term solution is cryopreservation, a complex process that stores tissues in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196°C.

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