Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia


Molecular systematics laboratory

The laboratory is located at the National Herbarium of NSW on the Sydney Gardens site. The laboratory opened in 1982 as a general laboratory with facilities for plant histology, chromosome analysis, and general laboratory techniques. Molecular systematic work commenced in 1991. The laboratory was enlarged and upgraded in 1996 and is now used primarily for research on phylogenetic and population studies based on DNA sequencing and the use of molecular markers.

Within the Science and Public Programs Branch of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, the Laboratory supports researchers working in the fields of Plant Diversity research and Evolutionary Ecology research.

The lab is equipped for

  • Extraction and storage of DNA from plant tissue
  • Gel electrophoresis and digital documentation
  • PCR amplification of DNA
  • E. coli cloning of target DNA segments
  • DNA fingerprinting principally using microsatellite markers
  • DNA sequencing and genotyping (in collaboration with external facilities)
  • Analysis of DNA sequences including the reconstruction of phylogenetic trees

A full list of users and projects is available in the current Plant Sciences Annual Report.

Our team

Staff performing molecular research within the Molecular Systematics Laboratory

Students and honoraries performing molecular research within the Molecular Systematics Laboratory

Scientific visitors

Permission must be sought from the Manager Plant Diversity to utilise the Herbarium Laboratory. Additionally, please make arrangements well in advance with the Laboratory Manager as a laboratory safety induction must be completed prior to commencing any lab work.

Molecular Laboratory 2011-2012

>> View Molecular Laboratory report for 2011-2012
>> View Molecular Laboratory report for 2010-2011

Horticulture laboratories

Situated at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, the horticultural research facility focuses on the ex situ conservation of rare and threatened species. The research laboratory was established in 1989 with a tissue culture laboratory the dominant design feature.

Tissue culture laboratory

The tissue culture laboratory is used for maintaining parental material in vitro, bulking up of commercial lines and providing a support function for the Mount Annan Botanic Garden’s nursery and the needs of our other Gardens. In addition the laboratory is used to develop protocols for species found to be difficult to vegetatively propagate and/or germinate from seed. The tissue culture laboratory plays an essential role in assisting the NSW Seedbank meet its conservation objectives.

The research area is divided into clean and dirty laboratories with a walk-in controlled environment room, allowing for the high standard of cleanliness required for tissue culture sterility.

Our team

NSW Seedbank

In 1999 NSW Treasury provided capital funds for the redevelopment of the NSW Seedbank facility. This redevelopment included a seed drying room, walk-in coolroom and freezer, seed testing room and additional office space, making it one of the best seedbanks in Australia and the major repository for NSW threatened species. The storage of NSW threatened species is considered to be part of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trusts' core role.

The aim of the NSW Seedbank is to collect and store a genetically representative samples of seed from endangered and threatened species or populations of NSW flora. The seedbank facilities have been designed for the storage of orthodox species. For this reason the priorities will initially focus on orthodox species for which there is some knowledge of seed germination, i.e. in the plant families Fabaceae and Myrtaceae. This will allow the establishment and development of operational procedures.

Our team

  • Peter Cuneo (Manager - Natural Heritage)
  • Richard Johnstone (Seedbank Officer)
  • Graeme Errington (Seedbank Assistant)

Click here to find out about the role of the NSW Seedbank.

Plant Pathology laboratory

The Plant Pathology Laboratory is located in the Plant Pathology and Mycology Centre within the Central Depot of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney site. It services the essential functions of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Unit and the Plant Pathology Research Program within the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust Science and Public Programs Branch. These functions include plant disease diagnosis, plant pathogen detection and isolation, fungal identification, growth of fungal cultures, storage of fungal specimens and analysis of fungal DNA. The Laboratory is divided into four sub-laboratories: General Laboratory, Molecular Laboratory, Mycological Laboratory and Herbarium, and Diagnostic and Imaging Laboratory.

Current equipment includes

  • Light microscope (Olympus SZH10 stereo microscope) with camera attachment
  • Olympus BH2 with fluorescent attachment and camera attachment
  • Two laminar flow cabinets, 2 autoclaves, fungal culture and growth cabinets and shelves, -80oC freezer
  • Equipment for extraction of DNA from fungal or plant tissues, agarose gel electrophoresis and gel digital photography, PCR DNA amplification, refrigerators and freezers

Our team

  • Dr Edward Liew (Manager Plant Pathology)
  • Julie Bates (Technical Officer)
  • Sarah Dunstan (Technical Officer)
  • Research students

DNA sequences of Australian ferns. Image: N Nagalingum

laboratory founding scientists
Celebrating 20 years of Molecular Research at Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, pictured are founding scientists Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Honorary Research Associate John Thomson, Senior Principle Research Scientist Peter Weston and Honorary Research Associate Barbara Briggs. Photo: C. Connelly.

Plant Pathology lab

Nursery Mount Annan

Molecular Laboratory frozen tissue collection
Molecular Laboratory frozen tissue collection has started to be curated by scientific volunteers. Photo: C Connelly

PCR cabinet
New PCR cabinet for RNA research.
Photo: C. Connelly