Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Global science team rescues rare wheat seed from the Fertile Crescent

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

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EL BATAN, Mexico(February 23, 2016)- With Syria torn apart by civil war, a team of scientists in Mexico and Morocco are rushing to save a vital sample of wheat’s ancient and massive genetic diversity, sealed in seed collections of an international research center formerly based in Aleppo, but forced to leave during 2012-13.

The researchers are restoring and genetically characterizing more than 30,000 unique seed collections of wheat from the Syrian genebank of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), which has relocated its headquarters to Beirut, Lebanon, and backed up its 150,000 collections of barley, fava bean, lentil, and wheat seed with partners and in the Global Seed Vault at Svalbard, Norway.

In March 2015, scientists at ICARDA were awarded The Gregor Mendel Foundation Innovation Prize for their courage in securing and preserving their seed collections at Svalbard, by continuing work and keeping the genebank operational in Syria even amidst war.

“With war raging in Syria, this project is incredibly important,” said Carolina Sansaloni, genotyping and DNA sequencing specialist at the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), which is leading work to analyze the samples and locate genes for breeding high-yield, climate resilient wheats. “It would be amazing if we could be just a small part of reintroducing varieties that have been lost in war-torn regions.”

ICARDA Awarded Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize

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Aleppo Genebank Team/ ICARDA

By Katie Lutz/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (March 19,2015)- The Gregor Mendel Innovation Prize is awarded each year to an individual or an organization for outstanding contribution in plant breeding. Today, 19 March, The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) was presented this honor in Berlin. The award was presented to director general, Mahmoud Solh, and  ICARDA’s Genetic Resources Section (GRS) team.

Over the last three years, ICARDA has been faced with the looming situation in Syria. Last year, ICARDA’s headquarters in Aleppo was seized by Syrian rebel groups and ICARDA has had to disperse their staff and leave their headquarters in Syria. A group of researchers have put their own safety concerns aside, because leaving Aleppo would be a dramatic loss for ICARDA and international agricultural research. Among the researchers who stayed behind was ICARDA’s GRS team. The GRS team maintains the ICARDA genebank, which stores the world’s largest collection of barley, faba and lentil beans, along with ancient varieties of durum and bread wheat.