As our understanding of crop genetic resources has expanded, so has our understanding of genebank management. While the genebank is generally envisaged as a building holding conserved germplasm, in reality the genebank is the sum total of the reserves of conserved genetic resources. Thus, if we consider the situation in Japan as a case of the system in a resources-rich developed country, it would include:
1. Active collections (which may include parts of breeders' working collections);
2. Base collection (of conserved materials);
3. Seeds stored in cold storage rooms;
4. In vitro collections of cell cultures;
5. Cryogenically preserved germplasm;
6. Living collections of growing plants (which may or may not be part of an active or base collection);
7. Preservation areas and nature reserves;
8. Botanical gardens; and
9. Research institutes, e.g., fruit tree collections.
Management is an all encompassing word covering everything from staff motivation to output efficiency and cost effectiveness. However, for the context of this paper in relation to genebanks and crop genetic resources, we will focus on the genebank system established by genebank managers and we will use the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries (MAFF) genebank system as an example.
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