Jennifer L Ison
Effects of non-random sampling of prairie species on the genetic diversity of seed collections
“I am a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago working with both the Chicago Botanic Garden and Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership. My research is focused on how to collect seeds from natural populations while retaining all genetic diversity.
If collectors do not consider the genetic makeup of the seed collection, there can be negative consequences for the conservation effort. While many studies have looked at seed collection in a spatial framework, these studies have only examined the consequences of random and non-random sampling techniques. No study has examined the consequences of non-random sampling techniques over the course of a flowering/fruiting season. Typically, seed collectors visit a site only once, at the height of seed maturity. This method of seed collection is not a truly random sample of the population since plants that set seed early or late are not represented. I am studying how the timing and number of seed collections sampled from a population, affects the genetic diversity and quality of seeds collected. I am also interested in how the timing of seed collecting relates to seed germination success.
For my research, I collected seeds from a population at three distinct times over the course of a fruiting season. I first looked at seed quality based on seed collection timing and found that seeds collected early and late were more likely to be inviable and thus lower in quality. I am now using quantitative and molecular genetic methods to determine if each seed collection represents the overall genetic diversity in the source population. I will also set up a seed germination experiment based on seed collecting times under the supervision of MSBP’s Dr Peter Toorop.
I enjoy working with MSBP and hope that my research will provide seed collectors with information on how best to collect seeds from a population. I have already presented my initial findings at two conferences in 2007 and am currently preparing a manuscript for publication. I presented the first of the molecular genetic findings at a conference in 2008."
- Read about the work of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership in the USA
- Read about the Millennium Seed Bank's research project into genetic diversity of seed collections
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