“Seed quality is determined by highly complex interactions between biochemical, biophysical and molecular processes within the seed, which are only very poorly understood” explains Ilse Kranner, Professor of Plant Physiology at the Austrian University of Innsbruck, who is the coordinator of the EU-project EcoSeed. In this project, three crop species, barley, sunflower and cabbage will be studied together with the model plant Arabidopsis, to see how drought and elevated temperatures suffered by the mother plant, impact upon seed quality. As a next step, the scientists want to find out how changes in temperature, humidity and oxygen concentrations during storage further affect seed viability, storability, and seedling vigour.The knowledge gained from the detailed study of the above four plant species will then be transferred to wild plant species to the benefit of conservation projects. Eleven renowned European teams participate in the EcoSeed project. Among them are the Seed Conservation Department of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, maintaining the largest ex situ genebank for wild plant species globally, and the Federal ex situ Genebank of Germany, the IPK Gatersleben, which is the largest crop genebank in the EU. “EcoSeed combines aspects of food security and conservation, and we are lucky to have top-class scientists in the consortium” says Ilse Kranner.
Dr. Christian Flatz | Universität Innsbruck
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