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Cryopreservation for the long-term conservation of in vitro germplasm results in the exposure of tissues to physical, chemical and physiological stresses causing cryoinjury. Although, the effects of cryoinjury upon the genome are often unknown, any accumulative DNA polymorphisms may not be induced by cryopreservation per se but are the result of the whole culture-cryoprotection-regeneration process. It is desirable to assess the genetic integrity of plants surviving cryogenic storage to determine if they are 'true to type' after cryopreservation. This can be done at the phenotypic, histological, cytological, biochemical and molecular levels. The relevance of these approaches to stability investigations is discussed with their limitations. This review provides a definition for 'Cryobionomics' - a novel term describing the re-modelled concept of genetic stability and the re-introduction of cryopreserved plants into the environment.

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