Minimising variability in seed development, quality and maturity for ex situ biodiversity conservation
“I completed the MSc in Conservation and Utilisation of Plant Genetic Resources at the University of Birmingham, which included an introduction to seed conservation at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership. This triggered my interest in the area.
My PhD was jointly funded by the MSBP and the University of Reading. My interests lie in seed development and maturity. I worked with Trifolium ambiguum as a model system to study seed development. By investigating variation in the time taken for seeds to develop the ability to germinate, to acquire desiccation tolerance and to reach maximum longevity, I gained an understanding of why seeds mature at different rates, and what collectors can do to obtain more uniform, high quality seed collections.
As an alternative approach to maximising seed quality, I applied post-harvest treatments. Holding immature seeds at high humidity before or after drying allows development to continue. By allowing seeds to complete the final stages of maturation in a controlled environment, we attempted to produce seeds of higher quality than those that were matured on the plant. I had the opportunity to present this work at an international conference in Brisbane.
I have greatly enjoyed the combination of work in the field, lab and glasshouse and the experience of working at the MSBP, with so many seed specialists.”
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