Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Optimizing Seed Bank Methods for Hawaiian Plants

Location: Plant Germplasm Preservation Research

Project Number: 3012-21000-014-08-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2013
End Date: Sep 30, 2016

1) Identify species that exhibit non-orthodox seed storage behavior and so cannot be stored by Genebank Standards • do not tolerate substantial drying • deteriorate rapidly if dried to standard RH • do not tolerate freezer (-20oC) storage or tend to age rapidly when placed in freezer • age rapidly after harvest 2) Test feasibility of cryogenic and -80oC storage for seeds with non-orthodox storage physiologies. 3) Place seeds into long-term storage and monitor changes in germination patterns over time using small sample sizes 4) Test feasibility of non-invasive viability monitoring techniques on a portion of accessions.

The islands of Hawaii harbor more endangered species per hectare than any other place in the world. As a consequence of the high endemism and tropical/subtropical climate with diverse rainfall patterns, plant species of Hawaii produce seeds with diverse post harvest physiologies, and this diversity provides the rare opportunity to understand the range of seed responses to genebanking conditions. Better knowledge of how seeds, especially those accumulating tropical oils, respond to severe drying and low temperatures used in genebanks will directly improve standards for genebanking of plant genetic resources Obtaining this knowledge is urgent for Hawaii, to preserve the existing genetic diversity of populations of endangered species so that these species can be restored to their native environment. This Interagency Agreement supports research which will aid conservation efforts of USFWS and genebanking research conducted by ARS. Typically seeds are classified as recalcitrant, orthodox or intermediate. Orthodox seeds are stored conventionally in freezers at -20oC. Species producing recalcitrant or intermediates seeds are generally not stored, but can be backed up in growing collections at great expense and risk of loss. NCGRP scientists have developed methods to stored many seeds that are deemed difficult. The technology requires cryogenic approaches and methods still need to be optimized. An important discovery made through successful collaboration between NCGRP, USFWS, NTBG, Lyon Arboretum, and US Army is that 30 to 50% of the species endemic to Hawaii produce seeds in the intermediate category. The syndrome of damage varies among species making it difficult to know the best seed storage procedures. Some seeds are damaged by over-drying, some by -20oC exposure, and some just age faster than they can be processed. These different syndromes demand different processing and storage protocols. Protocols we aim to develop and communicate through research from this interagency agreement. Monitoring seed quality in storage and regenerating collected seed before they lose viability is one of the greatest challenges of banking seeds from wild populations. Samples can be depleted by monitor tests or lost viability can be undetected and the entire effort wasted. NCGRP is working on non-invasive predictive tests and will apply this latest technology to a subset of seeds studied in the proposed research.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page