- Evolutionary ecology research
- Horticultural research
- Plant diversity research
- Plant pathology research
- Herbarium & resources
- Scientific publications
The seed research program is integral to the SeedQuest NSW project, and has provided strong collaborative links to other Millennium Seed Bank partners via projects such as seed longevity testing. Seeds of many Australian species are expected to be long-lived in storage, with groups such as acacias, eucalypts, and casuarinas topping the list. However, the longevity of seeds of most species is unknown. In order to address this, we are collaborating with Australian partners of the Millennium Seed Bank Project to rank a wide range of species according to the longevity of their seeds (Martyn, 2009). The ranking is useful for prioritising which species must be cleaned and stored first - a key task at the end of a busy collection season. The ranking will determine which speciesí seeds are likely to survive for long periods in storage, help us set appropriate re-testing schedules for banked seeds and work out which species will need to be regenerated or replenished regularly with fresh seed. Experimental work for this project will conclude in late 2009, with data analysis and a draft publication produced by early 2010.
Research also informs the germination testing program within the NSW Seedbank. More than 900 germination tests have been conducted during the SeedQuest NSW project, with more than 680 tests exceeding 75% germination. A review of seed quality, viability and germination has been conducted on NSW Seedbank collections in the family Rutaceae, confirming that these parameters are highly variable and reinforcing the need to take these issues into account to ensure optimal regeneration of plants from conservation seed banks (Martyn, Seed, Ooi and Offord 2009). Threatened species in the family Rutaceae were more likely to have low seed fill than common species, while viability and germination were similar. This suggests that poor seed fill is a contributing factor to threat status and is an important parameter to measure. In addition, two short publications describing seed collection methods in Zieria arborescens (Frith et al 2009) and seed quality in Geijera spp. have been submitted to a restoration-focussed journal.
Significant efforts have been made to educate students and seed bank practitioners in best-practice techniques for seed handling, storage and germination. This extension was made through seminars, formal training, community talks and seedbank tours, and the drafting of updated guidelines for 'Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia' (through ANPC) (Offord and Meagher 2009).
For more information see NSW Seedbank.