Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Seed banks, sowing biodiversity’s future

22.09.2005


“Biological diversity is a widely under-appreciated resource that is essential for human existence and has a crucial role to play in sustainable development and in the eradication of poverty. Biodiversity provides millions of people with livelihoods, helps to ensure food security, and is a rich source of both traditional medicines and modern pharmaceuticals.” That is how UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan defined biodiversity at the International Day for Biological Diversity in 2003.



Humans intimately depend on biological capital, and without it, it would have been impossible to reach the level of prosperity that we currently enjoy. Plants have graced us with food, medicine,wood, and energy, but during the last century, human pressures and rapid industrial development have severely affected the natural heritage. The extinction of new species brings the irreversible loss of unique plants directly related to human development and prosperity.

Each plant has a genetic warehouse and biochemical information; the extinction of just one species can cause the loss of very important information for the human’s well-being. In addition biodiversity as the variety of all forms of life on earth is required for the recycling of essential elements such as oxygen, to reduce pollution and acts as a buffer against variations in weather and climate.


More than ever, it is becoming essential to look for new developments which would use our biological capital in a sustainable and equitable way, while of course, at the same time, preserving it. Bearing in mind that 50% of Europe’s endemic species are in danger of extinction, avoiding their loss is capital.

Seed banks such as the ones coordinated by ENSCONET have an important role to play here, by ensuring that precious plant diversity is available for later use by us and future generations in habitat restoration, sustainable development, or recovery programme.

There are several purposes for which to store seeds. Seeds of wild species are stored for plant conservation (called ex situ ) because the species they come from are endemic, are being at risk of extinction or because they are from geographic areas in process of deterioration. Crop wild relatives stored constitute a pool of genetic diversity that can be used in plant improvement for agricultural purposes. Seeds are also stored for research purposes.

The majority of world plants produce seeds that can maintained their viability after being dried and frozen. In those cases, after collecting and proper determination, seeds are cleaned and dehydrated to a 5%- moisture content. The seeds are then encapsulated in hermetically sealed flasks and finally stored either in deep freezers at -20 oC or in liquid nitrogen. It is important, before storing the seeds, to identify their origin (species and geographical origin) so that they can be properly classified. A dried plant specimen is usually use for that purpose.

Seeds that do not bear being dried need specific research to improve their viability and increase their longevity when stored. During storage, germination tests are performed to ensure seeds viability and make sure that species re-introduction would be possible in the case of extinction.

Conservation work is basic for preserving seeds. As the loss of biodiversity is a common problem which goes beyond frontiers, cooperation between countries (for example in Europe), and setting up laws and policies is necessary in order to alleviate the problem and work together in preserving natural heritage.

Projects such as ENSCONET, which purpose is to establish a common European network working in seed conservation,go towards this goal.

Amparo Amblar | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ensconet.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>