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MSB Seed Banking Worldwide

A large portfolio of seed conservation collaborations developed between 2006 and 2009 which together contributed about 15% of the total species intake under MSB-1.

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R Davies, RBG Kew

Low-cost seed drying equipment (Image: R. Davies, RBG Kew)

In 2006 Kew established the MSB seed-banking worldwide programme to respond to requests for collaboration from organizations in countries not yet involved in its International Programme. Over the following three years a large portfolio of varied collaborations was developed right around the world. Some of these collaborations contributed one-off donations of seed collections to the Millennium Seed Bank, others comprised short but important projects and others have gone on to develop significant MSBP Projects.

In all cases, Kew provided the appropriate technical and scientific support to develop the capacity of these organizations to make high quality conservation collections of seeds. This capacity building covered formal and informal training of partner scientists and development of facilities and infrastructure. This programme pioneered the development of low-tech seed drying equipment for partners which is now routinely used across MSBP projects. This comprises the use of plastic barrels of silica gel, including indicator beads for the drying of seed collections, and shipment and storage in foil bags.

The programme also included the duplication of seed from horticultural collections across Kew to safeguard genetic diversity from the living collections. The programme contributed around 4,000 species to the MSB seed banking target.