In my lab we use a Filemaker database that I modeled after a method
used by many in the maize community for many decades. It has worked
very well for 16 years. It could benefit from some relational
additions, but I have never had the time to figure out how to do that
since such capabilities were added to the Filemaker program.
Filemaker is Mac/PC transparent and a database on a server can be
accessed equally by both Macs and PCs. I would be glad to provide an
empty version of my database file (perhaps with a few included
records as examples), but a lab has to purchase FileMaker software to
use it (In the US $300 commercial, $150 academic purchase).
The database works best if it is used ALWAYS for EVERY planting in
your lab. Here is how we use it:
Each record refers to an individual planting. A planting is defined
as seed from one pack planted on one day (and can be any number of
pots or flats). Each record is given a unique number that goes on
the flats/pots and goes on any seed collected from such. For example,
seeds collected in bulk from planting 4532 would just have "4532
self" on the packet and the date collected. If you collect from
individual plants in a planting then you give the seed packets
numbers like "4532-1, 4532-2" etc for each plant. A cross is listed
as "4532-1 X 4653-6" if you crossed plant number 1 from the first set
with plant number 6 from the other.
People in my lab have to get a number BEFORE planting. You go to the
database, ask for a new record, put in the data on what is being
planted and then record the new number it has given you to put on
your pots/flats. (we even have it set up to print Avery labels for
the pots if you have a lot of pots)
The system works so well that I can look up anything planted by
anyone who has been in my lab for the past 16 years, and can trace
the lineage of any of the nearly 25,000 seed packets back to where it
started. I can trace lineages of the nearly 10,000 plantings we have
done with a few quick searches etc. The seeds are kept in tupperware
boxes in numerical order with desiccant in the bottom.
You can put in a backlog by just giving your existing seeds numbers
as you enter them into the database, as though you had done it from
I have looked at other peoples' systems but prefer ours to any of the others.
Charles S. Gasser
Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of California
1 Shields Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
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Tel. 530 752-1013
FAX 530 752-3085