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Thousands of cultivars ready for seeding have been destroyed, but Ukraine’s plant gene bank mostly survived, says Plant Institute researcher

Serhiy Avramenko, a leading researcher at the Yuriev Institute of Plant Industry of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, who reported considerable damage to Ukraine's only Plant Genetic Resources Bank caused by a Russian shelling strike on Kharkiv yesterday, reassured The Insider that they have been able to preserve most of the collection.

On May 17, Avramenko made a video deploring the loss of a gene bank holding over 160,000 cultivars and hybrids of crops from all over the globe. “Everything turned to ashes - tens of thousands of samples of seed material! Including varieties that are hundreds of years old, ancient, ones that can no longer be restored. Everything burnt out,” said the scientist. Today he specified, however, that the two or three dozen thousand samples destroyed only represented a fraction of the collection.

“They destroyed the samples we had prepared for seeding. I don't have an exact number of the samples damaged, but we’re speaking about dozens of thousands. Twenty, maybe thirty thousand cultivars of spring crops were being prepared for seeding. We’d already seeded the winter crops, and the spring crops were next. However, the collection of varieties we intended to seed was completely wiped out. It wasn't most of the collection; it was only a fraction.
The core of the collection is in storage in Kharkiv. I can't disclose its location because this is sensitive information. I can’t even say the storage facility is secure – it's vulnerable, unfortunately, completely unprotected against airstrikes. But most of the collection is stored there at an appropriate temperature, and it has been intact.”

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