Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Australian Botanic Garden


What are the scientists doing in the laboratories?

Plant laboratory

This area is used for the study of whole plants and soils. It allows staff to conduct experiments on, for example, potting mixes as well as studying plant interactions with the environment.

Seed testing laboratory

This area is for the preparation and examination of seeds for viability testing, longevity seed testing and routine testing of seeds before and after cold storage.

Seed processing room

Staff process newly collected plant material to separate out the seeds before the material is dried to low moisture content and can be stored. In combination with the seed testing laboratory this cleaning process helps to ensure only seed of high quality is banked in the seed vault.

Microscopy room

Many seeds are small and the microscopes housed here aid in the testing and image collection of these objects. There is also an X-ray machine that allows staff to see inside seeds to assess seed quality and viability.

Germination room and walk-in incubators

The cabinets in here can be set to various temperatures to allow seeds to germinate under optimal conditions. The two walk-in incubators are set at the most commonly used temperatures to allow for a large number of tests to be carried out simultaneously.

Drying room

Freshly collected seeds are placed here at 15% RH (relative humidity) and 15ºC to reduce the moisture content of the seeds so they can be stored for the long term in cold storage. Seeds can stay in this room for weeks or months at a time before they are considered dry enough to package and store at cold temperatures.

Seed vaults

There are two storage conditions in the seed vault. One is set at 4ºC for short term storage and the other is -18ºC for long term storage. These are the same temperatures as a domestic fridge or freezer.

Cryo storage room

Seeds and plant tissues are stored in stainless steel vessels containing liquid nitrogen at -196ºC.

Tissue culture laboratory

The space is used for the preparation of media for growing tissue culture plants.

Laminar flow room

Laminar flow cabinets are used for the sterile dissection of plant material during tissue culture. The cabinets provide a hospital operating theatre-like environment which allows material to be handled in an aseptic or sterile manner.

Plant Growth room

The tissue culture bottles are housed here on stainless steel benches with over-bench lighting. The room is maintained at about 23 ºC with lights on for 16 hours and in the dark for 8 hours.