Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Wollemi Pine research - embryological (seed) development

Among the conifers, the family Araucariaceae - to which the Wollemi Pine belongs - shows an unusual embryological (seed) development sequence. By determining the nature of Wollemi Pine seed development we will learn more about evolution and relationships of the Wollemi Pine and the Araucariaceae in general.

Regular sampling of cones as they grow is necessary to determine periods of active development for closer sampling, and may even provide sufficient material for determining the complete development sequence.

Materials for study can be kept indefinitely in alcohol-based preservative. After dissection and further processing through a series of dehydrating (drying) chemicals, ultra thin sections are cut and mounted on glass slides for microscopic examination or can be examined using a scanning electron microscope.

A knowledge of the seed biology of the Wollemi Pine is essential in understanding the reasons for the poor seed set of the species in the wild which may impact on management of the species.

This project was supported by funding from Hermon Slade Foundation, project HSF 02_7.

Researchers

Assoc. Prof. N Prakash (University of New England)

Dr Russell Haines (Queensland Department of Primary Industry)

Dr Cathy Offord & Patricia Meagher (Australian Botanic Garden)

Female (seed) cone emerging
Female (seed) cone emerging.

Female (seed) cone being dissected
Female (seed) cone, collected before disintegrating, being dissected to show form and position of seed and scale.

Wollemi Pine with maturing seed cones
Wollemi Pine in March, showing the maturing female (seed) cones and the next season's cones towards the top.