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Genetic Resources Program



Genetic Resources Program

The Genetic Resources Program manages CIMMYT’s gene bank, Seed Health Unit, Biometrics & Statistics Unit, and Data Management Unit. The program conserves, and together with the Global Wheat and Global Maize Program, studies, documents and facilitates the use of maize and wheat genetic resources. CIMMYT manages humankind’s most diverse maize and wheat collections.

Wheat holdings at CIMMYT comprise some 140,000 seed samples from more than 100 countries; the largest unified collection in the world for a single crop. The maize bank contains 28,000 samples of seed, including the world’s largest collection of maize landraces – varieties developed by farmers over decades, centuries or even millennia – along with samples of maize’s wild relatives, teosinte and tripsacum, and of improved varieties.

The Seed Health Unit ensures that all seed imported to, or exported from any of CIMMYT’s research locations, as well as all seed stored in our gene bank meets international phytosanitary standards to minimize the risk of spreading seed-borne pathogens.

The Data Management Unit deploys databases and assists CIMMYT scientists to practice best, open-access data stewardship practices to maximize the impact of CIMMYT research.

The Biometrics and Statistics Unit provides technical advice in the design and analysis of experiments, offers workshop and other professional development opportunities, and partners with CIMMYT colleagues to develop, validate and use data analysis models that improve the efficiency of research.

Seeds of Discovery (SeeD), together with various other initiatives, is developing a genetic resources utilization platform, including: documenting the biodiversity of CIMMYT’s maize and wheat seed bank; developing informatics tools; breeding “bridging germplasm,” which incorporates new diversity in elite wheat and maize; and building professional capacity to use biodiversity to address current and future challenges to maize and wheat production.

Updated June 2015



  • Conservation, characterization, distribution and use of genetic resources.
  • Safe international movement of seed.
  • Stewardship and ensuring open-access to CIMMYT’s data and derived information.
  • Development and validation of new tools and methods for gene mining and crop improvement.
  • Capacity building in all of these areas.
Funding Institutions: Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), CGIAR Research Program Genebanks; CGIAR Research Program Wheat, CGIAR Research Program Maize, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ), Government of Japan,   Principal Coordinator: Kevin Pixley, Director of the Genetic Resources Program (K.Pixley@cgiar.org)