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PAULESI Students on Excursion at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Led by their Programme Coordinator, Prof. Mubo A. Sonibare, students of Medicinal Plant Research and Drug Development (MPRDD) department visited IITA on 2 August 2022. This excursion aimed at exposing students to modern techniques in biodiversity conservation and providing practical application of theory learnt in classrooms.

Upon arrival at IITA, the host Dr. Gueye Badara, a Cryopreservation Specialist, showed students around the Genetics Resources Center and a presentation by Dr. Rajneesh Paliwal on genome importance in plants conservation.

Visiting students witnessed all processes carried out in the various units of the Genetic Resources Centre. They learnt that ten (10) groups of crops from staple food in Africa such as cowpea, cassava, yam among others are currently being processed which are all geared towards achieving the goal of the Institute to conserve and make available the genetic resources of food crops of tropical Africa. 

They were also shown plant samples collected from various locations in Africa. They are then sorted and dried to get at least 5% moisture content. The dried seeds if viable are packed using vacuum sealing and stored for medium period at 50C or long-term periods at -200C. In terms of conservation methods, visitors made other useful discoveries. Cryobank is a method that involves the storage of the specimen under liquid nitrogen at a very low temperature. Field bank on its part includes taking some specimens to the field for regeneration; and the third method, In vitro gene bank, involves the use of tissue culture of the specimen via explants obtained from a growing plant. 

The excursion ended being instructive, as MPRDD students on this occasion expanded their knowledge on genetic resources. Based in Ibadan, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture is a non-profit institution generating agricultural innovations to meet Africa’s most pressing challenges of hunger, malnutrition, poverty, and natural resource degradation.