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16 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Seed Bank: Protecting plant biodiversity

CGTN
Seed Bank: Protecting plant biodiversity
The seed are stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius. Photo by Lei Tongsu

On a sunny morning in mid- May, seed collector Liu Cheng set out to look for a rare plant called Radix psammosilenes ("Jintiesuo" in Chinese) in the mountains near Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province. He feared that a fire that had broken out several days earlier would have threatened the plant.

The duty of Liu and his team, working under the Kunmingbased Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, the only national wild plant seed conservation institute, is to save germplasm resources of rare plants from extinction.
 
Various emergencies have brought great uncertainties for the collection and conservation of seeds. Fortunately, the plant that Liu searched for survived the fire.

The latest Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services launched in May this year warned that up to one million of the estimated eight million plant and animal species on the Earth are at risk of extinction. Habitat loss, overexploitation, climate change and pollution are the main causes.

As the genes of most plants are contained in their seeds, germplasm resources have become the carriers of plants' genetic information. A seed bank,which stores thousands of seeds, serves as the most important facility for preserving such resources.

I n i t i a t e d i n 2 0 0 4 , t h e Germplasm Bank of Wild Species had collected more than 80,000  seed samples from over 10,000 species of wild plants by the end of 2018. The seed storage accounted for one-third of the total wild plant species nationwide, making it the largest in Asia and
the second of its kind globally. 

"By collecting and storing seeds, we can bring the plants back to life even if they have disappeared in the wild," echoed He Huajie, seed manager at the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species in China.

According to He, the longterm conservation of a seed is a complex procedure, involving 10 stages and more than 80 steps at the end of which the seed will be stored at minus 20 degrees Celsius. If properly stored, the seed could theoretically stay alive for hundreds or even thousands of years. Currently, the institute has partnered with over 40 countries worldwide and collected over 2,000 seed samples. 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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