The CIMMYT maize germplasm catalog data base

Until recently the data pertaining to over 11,700 maize germplasm samples maintained by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) at El Batán, Mexico, have been difficult to obtain. The preparation of over 100 computer-readable files on cards and tapes from scores of field books, inventories and odd notes took two and a half years of work by Mario Gutierrez and myself. His role, besides regenerating the seed, was to prepare an inventory of the cans (up to 4.5 gallons in five cans per entry); mine was to obtain, complete and correct data on each entry for the Catalog Data Base.

The materials available at CIMMYT are almost entirely from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and eastern South America. Most are collections made in farmers' fields, markets or research institutions. About 700 entries are groups (narrowly-based composites representing very similar collections from a small geographic area) or composites-varieties (a range of materials produced by many breeding programs).

These entries were largely collected by three programs--CIMMYT, the joint Rockefeller Foundation-Mexican government project (two series) and a joint Brazil-US project based at Piracicaba. Many of the early Mexican collections are maintained only by the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agricolas at Chapingo, Mexico. The second RF-Mexican program series and the CIMMYT series date from the 1956-1970 period. The Brazilian set (including many from neighboring countries) is mostly pre-1956. Almost all have been recently regenerated, although a large number of Andean collections were still being increased in 1976.

The information comes from collection notes, entry lists, can inventories, regeneration nurseries, agronomic, morphological and other studies, and there are files for group and composite-variety information, abbreviations and codes, and odd notes and synonyms.

Wherever possible original collection notes were transcribed, first onto forms, then onto cards, but often secondary sources were used. When the Brazilian germplasm bank was transferred to CIMMYT, only a few of the entry cards accompanied the entries, but other cards have been located and sent to CIMMYT since. The genealogies and complete names of the groups and composites-varieties are available in several files. Knowing the synonyms of the entries is important since many have several commonly-used labels; in parts of the Caribbean and Central America most of the collections have been described under a temporary collection number in numerous publications, but now carry a different number. For instance, Panama 22B, Panama 22P and Panama 22Q now are Panama 47, 131 and 180 respectively.

A preliminary catalog version was offset-printed in 1975; the files, and queries of the Data Base, are available from the Information Sciences/Genetic Resources Program of the University of Colorado. The punched cards are kept in the statistics section of CIMMYT, and the source documents are stored in the CIMMYT archive.

This belated note is submitted now because a longer report is still awaiting publication.

Robert McK. Bird

Research Associate, Missouri Botanical Garden


Please Note: Notes submitted to the Maize Genetics Cooperation Newsletter may be cited only with consent of the authors.

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