Seed Technology in Plant Germplasm Conservation

in HortScience

In plant germplasm conservation, “orthodox” seed (i.e. seed that survives drying down to low moisture content) is the most suitable propagule for long-term storage. In general, high quality seeds of around 5% seed moisture content can be stored for 5-15 years at 2°C and 15-50 years at -18°C. Globally, there are some 1,300 genebanks and 6.1 million accessions of food and industrial crops in conservation. When collecting and conserving plant germplasm, seed science and technology have to be applied during germplasm collection; seed regeneration-germination, seedling establishment, flower synchronization, pollination, harvesting, drying, processing and packaging; seed storage and conservation; characterization and evaluation; and finally, distribution. Some of the seed science knowledge and technology skills encompass seed sampling strategy, sample size, seed health, germination and vigor testing, dormancy breaking, scarification, stratification, vernalization, photoperiod treatment, isolation and pollination techniques, harvesting, threshing, drying, hermetic packaging, storage facility design, etc. The goal is to produce seed lots that fulfill the required genetic, physical, physiological and health quality. A summary was presented to relate germplasm conservation activities to seed science and technology. Some of the seed production, processing and testing equipment used were highlighted. Seed research in germplasm conservation is therefore crucial to streamline the operation and management of a genebank to make it more cost effective and attractive for funding.

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