Seedbank

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A seedbank stores seeds as a source for planting in case seed reserves elsewhere are destroyed. It is a type of gene bank. The seeds stored may be food crops, or those of rare species to protect biodiversity. The reasons for storing seeds may be varied. In the case of food crops, many useful plants that were developed over centuries are now no longer used for commercial agricultural production and are becoming rare. Storing seeds also guards against catastrophic events like natural disasters, outbreaks of disease, or war.

Contents

Seed dormancy

Orthodox seeds can stay dormant for decades in a cool and dry environment, with little damage to their DNA; they remain viable and are easily stored in seedbanks. By contrast, recalcitrant seeds are damaged by dryness and subzero temperature, and so must be continuously replanted to replenish seed stocks. Examples are the seeds of cocoa and rubber.

Optimal storage conditions

Seeds are dried to a moisture content of less than 6%. The seeds are then stored in freezers at -18°C or below. Because seed DNA degrades with time, the seeds need to be periodically replanted and fresh seeds collected for another round of long-term storage.

Challenges

  • Stored specimens have to be regularly replanted when they begin to lose viability.
  • Only a limited part of the world's biodiversity is stored.[citation needed]
  • It is difficult or impossible to store recalcitrant seeds.
  • There is a need to improve cataloging and data management. The documentation should include identity of the plant stored, location of the sampling, number of seeds stored and viability state. Other information, such as farming systems in which the crops were grown, or rotations they formed, should also be available to future farmers.[says who?]
  • Facilities are expensive for third world countries which contain the most biodiversity.

Alternatives

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