We’ve heard more from El-Sayed Mohamed El-Azazi, who’s doing a PhD at the Desert Research Centre on seed conservation of Acacia spp. (“Ecophysiological studies for some Acacia species grown in Egyptian Deserts and its conservation in gene bank” is the title). You’ll remember that the place was looted a few days ago, and people are justifiably worried about the Egyptian Deserts Gene Bank housed by the institute.
El-Sayed is adamant that the seeds and field genebank are safe. However, it is clear that the laboratories have been thoroughly trashed, and a lot of equipment broken or taken.
Along with the computers went a lot of data. El-Sayed says he has lost some of his PhD data. And the genebank’s database seems to be gone, although the passport data is still around in hardcopy. There are about 1100 accessions in the genebank, of about 750 wild plant species.
Which brings up a point that’s maybe not often addressed. And that is that the desirability of safety duplication goes as much for the data about germplasm accessions as for the seeds themselves.
A Svalbard for data, anyone?