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A tissue bank or genetic archive that preserves genetic resources such as seeds, gametes, somatic cells and stem cells of target species. Germplasm banks use low temperatures or freeze resources in liquid nitrogen to stop chemical and biological activity that might break down cells. By using cryopreservation to store germplasms, they can subsequently be used for a variety of assisted reproduction techniques, such as cloning for genetic improvement programs or ex-situ conservation purposes.
Stored gametes, embryos and somatic tissues represent a means of overcoming barriers of space and time, allowing the transfer of genetic material between populations and its use many years after the death of the donor animal or plant, while also preserving genetic diversity. Germplasm banks currently assist in monitoring biodiversity protection laws and traceability, have helped repopulate species at risk from becoming extinct, and used as a strategy to salvage crop diversity.