A major seed deposit of 4,690 samples has been made to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which includes the wind-resistant Bermuda bean.

The vault is the world’s largest collection of crop diversity, and serves as a global insurance policy against devastation from climatic events and other disasters. With this deposit, the vault now stores 891,151 crop samples from nearly every country in the world.

The Bermuda bean is an endangered species currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature watch list. It has evolved a vigorous root system that makes it more resistant to strong winds, such as those experienced in this autumn's Caribbean hurricanes.

Plant breeders can use the robust traits of the wild bean to develop crops that are more resistant to extreme weather events associated with increased climate change.

The bean samples are being deposited at Svalbard for safekeeping by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, one of 11 CGIAR genebanks supported by the Crop Trust. The Bermuda bean was originally collected by the Millennium Seed Bank at Kew Botanical Gardens and its partners.

While the bean is almost extinct in Bermuda, former CIAT genebank manager, Daniel Debouck and his team successfully multiplied the seed at CIAT going from just 15 seeds sent from Kew to now over 6,000 seeds. The species is now conserved and available for future breeding and research.

With increasing evidence of extreme weather events and the number of natural disasters quadrupling globally since 1970 to around 400 a year, dedicated long-term storage facilities such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault are playing a key role in protecting biodiversity.

Speaking for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Ms. Marie Haga, executive director of the Crop Trust commented: “Our mission at the Crop Trust is to safeguard crop diversity, forever. This deposit of seeds like the wind-resistant Bermuda bean is one step towards fulfilling this mission. The genebanks we help manage are key to making biodiversity available to farmers and breeders around the world, ensuring our food is plentiful, affordable and nutritious for the future."

Luis Guillermo Santos Meléndez, seed conservation and viability lab coordinator at CIAT, said: “Sending seeds like the Bermuda bean to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is like uploading your files to the cloud. It gives us peace of mind that even if disaster strikes, the robust genetic basis of beans and tropical forages can be recovered. With this deposit, CIAT now has 92% of its seed accessions backed up at the seed vault.”

The Crop Trust is the only international organisation devoted solely to ensuring the conservation and availability of crop diversity worldwide.