Seed Storage

Our legume seed collection is an integral part of our program. The DELEP seed collection focuses primarily on seeds of wild legume species from dry regions around the world as well as seeds of some crop species and species from more humid regions.

Central to our mission is the seed bank which is housed at our headquarters located in the Arizona Crop Improvement Association Building at The University of Arizona Campus Agricultural Center. The seed collection currently includes 1413 identified species of Fabaceae in 237 genera with a total of 4116 individual collections. The largest genera represented in the collection include Acacia (354 species), Astragalus (128 species), Lupinus (45 species), and Senna (42 species).


DELEP seed collections in our walk-in storage freezer.

These seeds originated in 67 countries on six continents. Seeds in our seed bank are obtained by direct collection, exchange with other botanical institutions, purchase, and donations. The seed collection is stored at ca. -18° C in a commercial walk-in storage freezer donated to the program by the late Horace P. Miller and in two chest freezers. Heat-sealable laminated foil envelopes are used for long-term seed storage. “Working collections” are stored in jars or in envelopes stored in sealable tubs. Accession records are maintained on a database. For more information on our seed collection accessions see our Index Seminum. Individuals and organizations involved in plant breeding, research, conservation, and seed exchange can request seeds.

In 1996, DELEP signed an agreement with USDA-ARS National Seed Storage Laboratory at Fort Collins, Colorado to provide back-up storage. There are now over 1000 DELEP accessions backed up in the National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in the Agricultural Genetic Resources Preservation Research Unit. Additionally, over 150 accessions are stored in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, in the Norwegian Arctic. DELEP was the third U.S. organization to have seeds placed in storage at this facility.