Exotic pests, shrinking ranges and a changing climate threaten some of the world’s most rare and ecologically important plants, and so conservationists establish seed collections to save the seeds in banks or botanical gardens in hopes of preserving some genetic diversity.
For decades, these seed collections have been guided by simple models that offer a one-size-fits-all approach for how many seeds to gather, such as recommending saving 50 seed samples regardless of species’ pollination mode, growth habitat and population size.
A National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis study, however, has found that more careful tailoring of seed collections to specific species and situations is critical to preserving plant diversity. Once seeds are saved, they can be reintroduced for planting in suitable locations if conditions are favorable. For more information on the study, visit the NIMBioS website.