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CIMMYT’s Wheat and Maize Gene Bank

CIMMYT manages humankind’s most diverse maize and wheat collections. Wheat holdings at CIMMYT comprise some 160,000 seed samples from more than 120 countries; the largest unified collection in the world for a single crop. The maize bank contains 28,000 samples of seed, including the world’s largest collection of maize landraces – varieties developed by farmers over decades, centuries or even millennia – along with samples of maize’s wild relatives, teosinte and tripsacum, and of improved varieties.

These seed collections represent the genetic diversity of unique native varieties and wild relatives of maize and wheat and are held under long-term storage for the benefit of humanity in accordance with the 2007 International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

This new data visualization tool was developed by Ernesto Giron in collaboration with Tom Payne, Denise Costich, and Kai Sonder from CIMMYT, inspired by Google Ideas. Data was provided by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). The visualization includes wheat and maize germplasm sent and 45,172 accessions collected with geographic reference from across the world. This is simply a subset of the 165,409 accessions stored in a database and used for showing the final stats results.


The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its Spanish acronym, CIMMYT, is a non-profit research and training organization with more than 400 partners in over 100 countries.

To improve maize and wheat, CIMMYT applies the best of biotechnology, traditional agronomy and breeding, socioeconomics, agricultural extension, and capacity building to create sustainable solutions with lasting impact and a strong focus on climate change, hunger, rural community development, and the environment. CIMMYT applies the best science to develop and freely share:

  • High-yielding, stress tolerant maize and wheat varieties.
  • Large, unique collections of maize and wheat genetic resources.
  • Productivity-enhancing, resource-conserving farming practices.
  • Training and information relating to the above.

Conservation and use of genetic resources has been a strong theme throughout CIMMYT’s history. International and regional nurseries formally began distribution in the early 1960s. The CIMMYT Germplasm Bank has been in operation since 1966 for maize and 1981 for wheat.