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Seaton, Philip

Job title: 

Project Manager, Orchid Seed Stores for Sustainable Use (OSSSU)

Seed Conservation
Joined Kew: 


Foreign languages: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons) Hatfield Polytechnic, 1970
  • Diploma in Education University of Sheffield, 1972
  • MPhil Wolverhampton Polytechnic, 1985
  • Editorial board; Lankesteriana, Richardiana
  • Chair; Ex situ Conservation Group IUCN SSC Orchid Specialist Group since 2000
  • Trustee; Orchid Conservation International
  • 'Visiting Scientist' at King Charles 1 School, Kidderminster since 2005
  • Chartered Biologist; Society of Biology

Project Management of Orchid Seed Stores for Sustainable Use (OSSSU).

Within the order of 25,000 species, the Orchidaceae is one of the largest plant families. Although their maximum diversity is within the tropics, orchids are found on all continents except Antarctica. Many species are threatened with extinction in their natural habitats due to climate change, habitat degradation, loss of pollinators and over-collection for their ornamental value or for use in traditional medicine.

My role has been to manage the ‘Orchid Seed Stores for Sustainable Use’ (OSSSU) project, which was initially funded by the Darwin Initiative programme. The aim of this ex situ conservation programme has been to create a global orchid conservation network to conserve, as seed, orchid species from diverse habitats of varying levels of threat, to utilise biotechnological approaches to re-introduce threatened plants; enhance institutional and country capacity for orchid conservation, and serve as a global access point for integrated orchid conservation programmes.

Initially focusing on creating orchid seed banks in sixteen countries located in biodiversity hotspots in Latin America and Asia, the network is now expanding to include countries in North America, Europe and Africa. The ambition for the next 5-year phase is to form a network of 30 countries (40 institutes). Our aim is not only to establish banking facilities for native species, but also to promote and publicise the science underlying the principles of seed storage and orchid conservation and to train young scientists to ensure a legacy for the future. A principle target is to conserve more than one thousand species by 2016, of which four hundred could be from China alone.

My future role is to focus on the educational aspects of the programme through the construction of a web-based Global Orchid Facility and a regular newsletter, started in 2011, whereby members of the network and the wider orchid science community, including charities and NGO members, can access information on seed viability, viability testing, germination media and seed capsule maturation times.

Selected publications: 

Hosomi, S.T., Custodio, C.C., Seaton, P.T., Marks, T.R. & Machado-Neto, N.B. (2011). Improved assessment of viability and germination of Cattleya (Orchidaceae) seeds following storage. In Vitro Celleular & Developmental Biology – Plant Biotechnology DOI 10.1007/s11627-011-9404-1. (IF=1.060)

Hosomi, S.T., Santos, R.B., Custodio, C.C., Seaton, P.T., Marks, T.R. & Machado-Neto, N.B. (2011). Preconditioning Cattleya seeds to improve the efficacy of the tetrazolium test for viability. Seed Science and Technology 39: 178-189. (IF=0.605)

Nadarajan, J., Wood. S., Marks. T.R., Seaton, P.T. & Pritchard, H.W. (2011) Nutritional requirements for in vitro seed germination of 12 terrestrial, lithophytic and epiphytic orchids. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 23: 204-212

Seaton, P.T., Hu, H., Perner, H. & Pritchard, H.W. (2010). Ex situ conservation of orchids in a warming world. Botanical Review 72: 193-203. (IF=2.657)

Seaton, P.T. & Ramsay, M.M. (2009). Cultivo de Orquideas por Semillas. Kew Publications Ltd.