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Collection of Seeds of Native Plant Species from the Slovakian Flora for Ex Situ Conservation

Based on the successful Millennium Seed Bank Project seed collecting collaboration between Kew and the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, which started in 2006, this expanded project has two main components: 1) Collection of 350 Slovak species new to the MSB and 2) Taxonomic and phylogenetic studies on four endemic model species, to improve the knowledge basis for future conservation action.
Staff members of the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, during a seed collecting trip in the Malá Fatra Mountains (Image: Jaromír Kuƒçera, Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences)

As part of Kew’s Seed Banking Worldwide programme, Kew signed a formal partnership agreement with the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences in December 2006. Among the activities defined in the agreement were joint field expeditions, seed collections for long-term storage in Slovakia, duplication of the collected material at the MSB, capacity building and training (with exchange visits and tailored training events taking place regularly), and exchange of scientific publications. Until the end of the first MSB phase, 300 collections (194 new species) were duplicated at the MSB. Since 2010, 110 further collections (75 new species) were sent to the MSB. Germination tests are carried out to assess the quality of the seed collections. Collections-based research helps to remove barriers to seed use and maximise storage potential.

Based on this successful seed collecting collaboration, both partners expressed their interest to expand their activities and the partnership agreement signed in 2006 has been extended until 2016. Within the next five years, the project will collect a further 350 species from the Slovak flora new to the MSB, store them in Slovakia at the national Gene Bank of the Slovak Republic in Pieš≈•any, with duplicate storage at the MSB. In parallel, four endemic and nationally protected species (Daphne arbuscula, Cyanus dominii, Pilosella ulleptischii and Tephroseris longifolia subsp. moravica) have been selected, to conduct research projects on their population genetics, phylogenetics and germination biology. It is anticipated that the results of these studies will help better define conservation needs (e.g. knowledge of subspecies and their distribution) and serve as a basis for future conservation measures. The BRAHMS software will be used for direct collection data transfer to the MSB. Already existing Slovakian data held by Kew are to be transferred to a BRAHMS database to be installed at the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences.

In order to access rare and endemic species in the southern part of the Carpathian mountains, the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences hosted in 2011 a joint three days training event with colleagues from the Institute of Biology of the Romanian Academy, Bucharest, Romania. In addition, the Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences, organised a joint seed collecting trip to two national parks in central Slovakia, attended by participants from the ENSCONET Consortium, drawn from five European countries (UK, Austria, Slovakia, Greece, Poland). The participants made 38 high-quality seed collections.

Project partners and collaborators


Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences

Project funders


Slovak Academy of Sciences


Millennium Commission