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The Rainforest Seed Conservation Project

The Rainforest Seed Conservation Project

The Rainforest Seed Conservation Project at the Australian PlantBank aims to increase our capacity to conserve rainforest plants by determining which species can be banked.

Australian rainforest plants have long been under threat from habitat fragmentation and invasive weeds and have recently been experiencing additional pressure from myrtle rust, drought and fire.  These pressures have driven some species to the brink of extinction. Seed banking is one cost effective way to ensure vulnerable plants do not go extinct, but the assumption that many rainforest species are unlikely to survive the required drying and freezing has limited work in this direction. The core of the Rainforest Seed Conservation Project at the Australian PlantBank work involves comparing the germination percentage of fresh seeds to seeds dried at 15% relative humidity and stored at -20°C. Species tolerant of drying but not freezing are further assessed using differential scanning calorimetry to determine optimum storage temperatures. In this seminar, I will present the results from testing over 300 species and discuss the difficulties encountered, the proportion of seeds that were suitable for standard or modified seed banking, and simple indicators that can be used to distinguish bankable from non-bankable seeds.

Dr Karen Sommerville from the PlantBank at The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan presents her work in the video below.