Seed banks: The living libraries that hold answers to disease, pest and climate problems

Botanists around the world are in a race against time to preserve native seeds and food crop seeds. They are saving the seeds for future research, to adapt to climate change, revegetate the landscape and find answers to plant diseases. Following the Native Seed Science Forum held at the Australian Botanic Garden in Mt Annan, NSW last month, this article features a brief description of the work being conducted in seed banks around the world. Dr. Christina Walters, researcher at the Agriculture Research Service National Centre for Genetic Resources Preservation, the seed bank of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) talks about her research to better understand how seeds of a diversity of crops can be stored to maintain their viability over many decades. Dr. Peter Cuneo, Manager of Natural Heritage Program, highlights the extensive efforts of the Australian Botanic Gardens Seed Vault to conserve native floral diversity through seed banking.