Millennium Seed Bank

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Millennium Seed Bank

  1. 1. Millennium seed bank  Home to about 1 billion seeds, from all over the world, which are frozen and stored in the appropriate container.  They started collecting the seeds in the 1970s and have already collected 10% of the world’s plant species. By 2020 they hope to have ¼ of the world’s plants stored here.  Seed banks are good, because you can store a large number of seeds from hundreds of different plant species, instead of planting a large number of trees to ensure their survival. Using a seed bank uses space more effectively.  What people at the seed bank are concerned about is global climate change, as plant populations might not be able to cope with the increasing temperatures, so they migrate, however some of the plants will assistance for them to migrate.  Up to 30% of the world’s plant species could become extinct over the next centaury, so it is necessary to store the seed in a seed bank.  Seed banks use fairly simple technology and have a relatively low cost.  As there are so many different types of plants (about 300 thousand, though some may not have been discovered) people at the seed bank have to prioritise which seeds they are going to collect by using three main criteria, is the species endangered, is the species endemic (is the plant species unique to a particular area/region), is the species of any economic value o humans (especially in developing countries as a source of nutrition, medicine, clothing and even fuel wood).  Problems with the seed bank are that the seeds can only be collected at certain times depending on the plant, so if little is known about the species then it will be difficult to predict when it will produce seeds. In addition to this, not all of the seed that are collected are able to germinate so they have to store a large number of seeds to ensure that the species can be preserved.  Furthermore the seeds have a shelf life so they have to be grown with a period of time and if they are not the seeds become worthless. Also the different species need different conditions for them to grow in.  The plants are stored in large jars in large refrigerated rooms to stop the seeds from germinating. When the seeds are brought to the seed bank, they are cleaned, their identity confirmed, dried, packaged in sub zero temperatures. Some of the seed are stored in containers which simulate the natural conditions they would have been in.

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