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The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) is responsible for all ex situ actions in Cyprus as well as management and communication project actions.
The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) undertakes research within the wider domain of plant and animal production. The Institute is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories pursuing analytical work in a range of fields encompassing molecular biology, agricultural chemistry, postharvest technology, phytopathology, entomology/ toxicology and tissue culture. The ARI infrastructure also includes an extensive library, modern greenhouse, and cold storage facilities αGene Bank and α Herbarium. An experimental livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) farm operates at Athalassa and outstations at Akheleia and Zygi for citrus, flowers, vegetables and field crops, at Saittas for deciduous fruits and vines and at Xylotympou and Polis for citrus, vegetables and cereal breeding. Extensive experimentation is also undertaken in cooperation with farmers on private agricultural land. The ARI is the National Focal Point for FAO projects related to conservation and utilization of plant and animal genetic resources for food and agriculture.
The Institute’s Genebank was established in 1985 while the first seed collecting expeditions conducted in 1978. Today, more than 2000 accessions are conserved under medium and long term storage facilities. The main activities of the Genebank concern the collection, conservation, characterisation and evaluation of local plant genetic resources. Focus has been given to genetic material threatened with genetic erosion or extinction such as landraces, endemic plants and plants of the national red book. Another area of interest is the collection of crop wild relatives, e.g. species that can be used for breeding and other useful plants such as aromatic, medicinal, ornamental and wild edible plants.
The Genebank has established close collaboration with other national and foreign Institutes and international organizations as the European Cooperative Program for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR). The Genebank is associated member of the AEGIS (European Genebank Integrated System) and member of the ENSCONET consortium (European Native Seed Conservation Network). It has also established close collaboration with other national, regional and international institutions such as ICARDA and the Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanical Gardens KEW. The Genebank has been involved in several projects aiming at the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources including the recent project funded by the MAVA foundation pour la Natura “Ensuring the survival of endangered plants in the Mediterranean”. It is estimated that more than 10,000 named specimens are kept in the Herbarium. Many specimens are sited to the “Flora of Cyprus” giving them high historical value.