Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global Seed Banking Milestone Celebrated by Wildflower Center, 122 Other Organizations

20.10.2009
An international partnership of 54 countries led by the United Kingdom's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is celebrating a decade of work to set aside seeds for future generations from 10 percent of the world's wild flowering species.

Thousands of seeds from nearly 25,000 native plant species have been collected and frozen down at locations that include Kew and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin as part of the $108 million Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) Project—the largest seed bank dedicated to wild plant species in the world. In Texas, the 590 species whose seeds have been preserved so far include everything from the Texas bluebonnet to angels' trumpets to wild buckwheat.

"Texas contains nearly a quarter of all native flora in North America, and it has been a tremendous honor to help save the genetic legacy of the state's iconic native plants as participants in the Millennium Seed Bank Project," said Susan Rieff, director of the Wildflower Center. "We are especially proud of our dedicated staff members who have stockpiled seeds for the Project from hundreds of plant species that may face future threats to survival."

Kew's major MSB partners are present in Australia, Chile, China, Kenya, Mexico and elsewhere. In the United States, where the project is also called the Seeds of Success program, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Bureau of Land Management and four U.S. non-profits have collected seeds.

Other seed banking projects have focused primarily on plants that are agricultural crops. Yet plants do more than serve as the food base for the planet. They also provide medicine, building material and fuel, and are essential for regulating the climate, purifying our water and air and offering other benefits. An estimated one-third of known plants worldwide are under threat due to habitat destruction, exploitation and invasive plant species that compete for resources.

"In a time of increasing concern about loss of biodiversity and climate change, Kew's MSB partnership provides a real message of hope and is a vital resource in an uncertain world", said Professor Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "The need for the kind of insurance policy and practical conservation resource the Millennium Seed Bank provides has never been greater."

In Texas, home of the first plant to be listed on the Endangered Species List, 23 other plants species are endangered, and five more are considered threatened. Meanwhile, more than 200 of the state's roughly 6,000 plant species are listed as "species of concern" with too little known about them because of resource constraints to make informed decisions about their conservation.

"As an MSB partner, we have collected and banked 10,000 or more seeds from species that form the backbone of landscapes that make Texas what it is," said Flo Oxley, the center's director of plant conservation and education. "These seeds can be used to preserve native species whose usefulness we may not even know yet, for plant research and other conservation purposes."

For example, seeds from some of the nine Ash tree species in Texas are being preserved as part of MSB that could become useful if the state gets hit with emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle discovered in Michigan in 2002. The beetle has killed millions of ash trees in Michigan and 12 other states. Even native insects could become a threat, as has been the case with pine beetles in the Rocky Mountains and elsewhere that have decimated western conifer forests, likely the result of recent warm winters and drought that weakened trees.

The Wildflower Center's Michael Eason and Minnette Marr have crisscrossed the state since 2002, climbing rocky cliffs in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, searching for plants in the El Paso desert, wading through East Texas bogs and facing other challenges to capture plants with fruit containing seeds ready for picking. They have been assisted by 100-plus volunteers and botany colleagues across Texas who helped collect the seeds and prepare them to freeze down at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit for 200 years or more. Six hundred collections have been made during the first phase of the MSB project in Texas, with roughly half the 6 million seeds preserved at Kew, and the remainder shared between the Wildflower Center and the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo.

Kew and its partners are seeking funding for the next phase of the MSB partnership. It will focus on conserving an added 15 percent of the world's plant species by 2020. The second phase will also involve sharing collected seeds to restore plant populations and to research drought-resistant crops and other sustainable uses of plants. Some of these applications are already under way.

Editor's Note: To interview Wildflower Center staff or receive high-resolution images of Texas or international MSB collections, contact Barbra Rodriguez at 512-232-0105 or brodriguez@wildflower.org. A video of a Texas seed collection trip is online.

To learn more about the international MSB Project, go to www.kew.org/msbp, call: +44 (0)20 8332 5607 or contact: a.quenby@kew.org or b.friedlander@kew.org.

In addition to funding from the United Kingdom's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center received grants from the Houston Endowment, Abell-Hanger, and Shield Ayres in support of its MSB collections. The seed collection efforts have also been helped by staff at places that include Sul Ross State University, Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens and the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, as well as by private land owners, federal agencies and non-profits such as The Nature Conservancy.

For more information, contact: Barbra Rodriguez, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 512-232-0105; Saralee Tiede, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0104.

Barbra Rodriguez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wildflower.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht 127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation

18.01.2017 | Information Technology

Reducing household waste with less energy

18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>