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CRYMCEPT
Establishing cryopreservation methods for conserving European plant germplasm collections

About 20 000 plant species are believed to be either endangered or rare and threatened with extinction. Their preservation is essential for classical and modern plant breeding programmes, and this biodiversity is a source of compounds for the pharmaceutical, food and crop protection industries. Conventionally, germplasm is conserved through seeds, roots, cuttings, etc., and for the long-term storage of plant germplasm, cryopreservation is the only available method. So far, cryopreservation procedures have been mainly developed based on empirical grounds. Hence, cryopreservation of plant germplasm is still not a standardised method and depends on tissue and plant species/variety. This project aims to determine the necessary physico-biochemical state of any plant species/tissues needed for successful cryopreservation. As such, a generally applicable cryopreservation protocol can be established and made available for all germplasm collections in Europe.

Objectives
The general objective is the development of new / improved cryopreservation protocols based on fundamental research and their application to plant collections in Europe.
The specific objectives are:
1) the development of user-friendly and reliable methods for the analysis of water thermal behaviour, proteins, sugars, membrane components, polyamines, cytoskeletal changes and oxidative stress for different in vitro tissues belonging to different plant species included in the project
2) the determination of physico-chemical changes associated with tolerance towards cryopreservation protocols using a multidisciplinary approach with the techniques described in objective 1
3) the development of efficient, user-friendly, fast and broadly applicable plant cryopreservation protocols based on the results obtained in objective 2
4) the dissemination of the results through a hands-on workshop, validation of the improved cryopreservation protocols, and their use in European collections.

Progress to Date
1) DSC analysis protocol is being optimised for coffee seed samples and will soon be applied to other plant species/varieties.
2) Protocols for 2D protein analysis are being optimised.
3) Sugar analysis of coffee, banana and olive material is being executed.
4) Testing of new equipment for membrane component analysis. Protocols are now being optimised.
5) Protocols for polyamine analysis are being optimised. Analysis is in progress.
6) Analysis of cytoskeletal changes for garlic and olive materials is in progress.
7) Methodologies for the study of oxidative stress are in progress.

Classified in ARABLE CROPS, BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, PLANT EXTRACTS

Scientist responsible for the project

Professor RONY SWENNEN
Lab. Tropische plantenteelt, Kasteelpark Arenberg 13
B-3001 Heverlee
Belgium - BE

Phone: +32 16 321420
Fax: +32 16 321993
E-mail: rony.swennen@agr.kuleuven.ac.be

References

Project ID QLRT-2001-01279
Organisation Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 November 2002
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 692 010 €
Total EC contribution   1 543 230 €
Status Ongoing
Web address of the project   http://www.agr.kuleuven.ac.be/dtp/tro/CRYMCEPT/CRYMCEPT.htm

The partners

  • DSMZ-DEUTSCHE SAMMLUNG VON MIKROORGANISMEN UND ZELLKULTUREN GMBH, Germany - DE
    mas@dsmz.de
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