March New publication on haplotype variation sheds light on the co-evolution of potyviruses and cultivated peas

The availability of DNA resources of germplasm collections is providing to be a game changer in the search for novel allelic variation in target genes of known sequence. This can be seen as offering a good return on investment on the cost and efforts of assembling and maintaining crop seed banks over the past 50 years.
DNA samples of 2803 pea accessions from 7 collections around the world including the JI Pisum Collection have helped establish a geographical gradient of 34 elF4E alleles involved in resistance to Potyviruses in pea. The broad screen found the elF4EA variant confers resistance to the P1 PSbMV pathotype to be exclusively found in cultivated landrace materials and not related crop wild relatives. The elF4F variants found in the Highlands of Central Asia, the Northern region of the Indian sub-continent, Eastern Africa and China were found to be tightly linked to the diversity of the pathogen raising interesting questions about the co-evolution of the potyviruses and the pea host. The full manuscript can be found at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090394.


January 2014 Bristol Cereals DB Stocks Collection open for requests

We are pleased to announce that bagged seed stocks of a set of sequenced lines from the Functional Genomics Group at the University of Bristol on the Wheat SNP Database are available on request. Details can be found under Germplasm Resources. We look forward to hearing from you.

December 2013 Best Year ever for the GRU

As the emails stop coming in and the phone falls silent and everyone starts to wind down for the end of year and being with family, the GRU Christmas elves are busy wrapping up the last of the seed lots to go off in the post (far safer than the sledge!). As we total up the number of enquires 2013 turns out to have been our busiest year ever by a big margin. We’ve enjoyed engaging with old friends and new and helping you with seed, advice and information and look forward to hearing from you in the New Year. BEST WISHES from the GRU team

December 2013 New graphical introduction to wheat aneuploid stocks

We are pleased to announce a new graphical aid to wheat aneuploid stocks which we hope will be of use to those working with these stocks.

November 2013 Impact of gene on crop development could boost cereal yieldsThe GRU helps to underpin the science of a number of UK Institutions with advice, germplasm and working visits. We are therefore pleased to announce a major publication arising from work at the James Hutton and the University of Dundee that appears in the current issue of PNAS. The work demonstrates that a gene encoding a protein called HvAPETLA2 (HvAP2) controls how closely grains are packed on the top of the barley stem or spike, an important agronomic trait called spike density. A press release of the work can be found at the James Hutton.


October 2013 Pulse Promise from Genetic Advances

This is the title of an article in the current issue of Crop Production Magazine. The report focuses on the UK research efforts at the John Innes Centre, PGRO and NIAB within the Defra supported Pulse Crop Genetic Improvement Network (PCGIN) and associated projects, and the impact of recent advances in genetics and biotechnology are aiding our understanding of development and seed quality and how these finding are being translated to crop improvement. The article also features the JI Pisum collection maintained by the GRU in providing the genetic variation and knowledge to help underpin the efforts of the research and breeding communities.


October 2013 Global Crop Diversity Trust Pea expert consultation workshop held at the JIC

The GRU has just hosted a productive 2 day meeting of experts to discuss the availability, conservation needs and utility of crop wild relatives for pre-breeding in pea. This was a small meeting with delegates from the USA, Czech Republic, Russia and a skype link to Australia. A report of the meeting will be made public. A longer manuscript to capture the current status of these issues is also planned.

August 2013 GRU field Harvesting Complete

A window of good weather has enabled us to complete the field harvest of all regeneration and demonstration materials. Plenty of demonstrations are planned for next year and we will keep you posted of what, where and when.

July 2013 Demonstration plots of heritage wheats and barley

The long cool spring has delayed crop growth by some 3 weeks compared to an average year. We are pleased to report that these Heritage Cereal plots are all in ear and ready for viewing. If you are interested in coming to see them either as an individual or with a group then please contact us to make an appointment.

July 2013 New Genetic Garden opens at the Dundee Botanic garden

The GRU is pleased to have supplied supporting materials to scientists from the University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute who this week will unveil a new Genetic Garden explaining the role of genes and genetics in conjunction with College of Life Sciences Plant Division in the Botanic Garden which opened this month.

June 2013 GRU at the National Institutes of Biosciences (NIB) meeting

The GRU is presenting a poster during the session. The on our collections and services and how we can help at the forthcoming NIB’s meeting at Roslin, Edinburgh. This important meeting provides us with a chance to engage with a wide cross section of the scientific community as well as colleagues from BBSRC central office.

June 12-13 2013 Come and see us at Cereals 2013 near Lincoln

GRU has been involved in the John Innes display as part of the BBSRC stand. Our display is a growing demonstration of wheat evolution with highlights as to traits that have scientists and breeders have found in these ancient forms and incorporated into modern wheats.


April 2013 Focus on Biodiversity

There is a special feature on the GRU and its links with breeders in the Spring issue of Plant Breeding Matters (information from the British Society of Plant Breeders).

Feburary 2013 New GRU Germplasm Manager

We are pleased to announce a new member of the GRU team. Dr Adrian Turner is a new Germplasm manager who will lead the development of our stock validation programme targeted primarily on specialist stocks where molecular marker and phenotype checks will provide valuable quality assurance to our operations and resources.

February 2013 GRU You Tube Channel tops 1000 views across 63 countries

In just under 6 months the 5 GRU information resource videos on guides to crossing in wheat and peas and explanations of different aspects of our work. The highest figures being for the UK, USA, India, Australia, Canada and with remarkably good figures from across South America and the Middle and Far East. We are delighted that these resources are proving useful to so many and will be adding more over the course of the year.

January 2013 New wheat resources from the Bristol Wheat Genomic Group

We are pleased to announce that following discussions with Prof. Keith Edwards at the University of Bristol, the GRU is set to become the stock distribution centre for seed of the high density mapping and exome capture targeted resequencing lines for the Bristol Group. The material is currently being multiplied under glass and will be available from the GRU from late summer 2013.


December 2012

Welcome to our new Germplasm Resources Unit website.This site is still under development but we felt we wanted to share some of the new functionality and features with our users sooner rather than later. We have introduced a range of new pages, features and funtionality which we intend to build on further. If you have any comments on the new desig , we would be pleased to hear from you. Please email comments to Mike Ambrose ( Also, don't forget to subscribe to our e-newsletter Seed Bank News

July 2012

The GRU is involved in training and advising on procedures relating to germplasm management and related activities. We are aware that there is potentially a much wider audience for such resources so we have started to produce a range of practical guides which we are making available via the web.

The John Innes Centre is custodian of a number of key germplasm collections which serves academic, industrial and non-industrial groups both within the UK and internationally. They are the subject of research in their own right as well as being involved in a range of collaborative programmes and genetic resources networks.

The collections housed within a purpose built facility maintained at 1.5°C and 10%RH with some 600m3 of storage capacity.

 Material from the collections is available on request to research, academic and commercial companies subject to availability. Material is also available for educational displays and demonstrations.

 All materials are sent out accompanied by a material transfer agreement (MTA), the specific version being dependent on the particular material in question. The main public collections (JI Pisum collection and the BBSRC Small Grain Cereals Collections) form part of the UK’ contribution to the Multilateral System (MLS) of the International Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). The MTA issued for the use of these resources is the standard MTA (sMTA) of the ITPGRFA.  This sMTA outlines the conditions of use and responsibilities of the recipient and should be retained for future reference for the following reasons;

  • The sMTA is issued under the ITPGRFA. As such it provides the necessary evidence of ‘due diligence’ should you later be required to show the audit trail for the origin of the materials in further grant proposals or possible commercialisation of materials that have used any of these materials in their development.
  • Materials covered by the sMTA of the ITPGRFA and is outside the scope of the Nagoya Protocol which covers access and benefit sharing for all other germplasm. Evidence of the exact terms under which your material was sourced might be important in answering any questions that might arise under either instrument.

Please not that passing on the material to further parties is done so under the same terms as they were received. Please email if you have any queries and for details of other agreements.

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Seed Bank News is produced by the Germplasm Resources Unit (GRU) at the John Innes Centre as a further channel of communication with our user community and raise awareness of recent activities and to flag the work of the collections and what we can offer.

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