For decades, CIMMYT maize and wheat breeders have drawn on this diversity for genes to strengthen the disease resistance and climate resilience of modern, improved varieties.
The CIMMYT genebank also safeguards and restores seed collections lost or threatened by conflicts. Genebank staff are working with the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to preserve and genetically analyze ICARDA wheat seed collections that were relocated from Syria with the outbreak of civil war.
Under the Seeds of Discovery project, a joint initiative of CIMMYT and SAGARPA through the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) project, scientists have genetically analyzed approximately 90,000 CIMMYT maize and wheat seed collections from more than 100 countries and nearly 30,000 wheat and wheat wild relative samples from ICARDA.
This work was implemented by CIMMYT as part of the Seeds of Discovery project made possible by the generous support of Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food under the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro) project, the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat (WHEAT), and Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock Research.
Text: Ricardo Curiel, Katie Lutz
Contributors: Sarah Hearne, Jennifer Johnson, Kevin Pixley, Carolina Sansaloni
Photos: Alfonso Cortés, Bibiana Espinosa, CIMMYT archives
Graphics: Gerardo Mejía
Editors: Bianca Beks, G. Michael Listman, Julie Mollins, Geneviève Renard