Development of Tool to Predict Germination Requirements for MSB Collections
With the very wide range of species’ seeds being conserved in the Millennium Seed Bank, from diverse habitats, there is an ever-increasing need to provide the best possible decision support for the process of germination testing, so that this is both effective and efficient.
As our collection has become more diverse, reliance on taxonomy as a predictor of germination requirements has become less effective. We now need to bring in the full range of available information, especially climate, to the prediction and decision making process. While we have done this synthesis ad hoc in the past, we are increasingly doing it in a systematic way, and developing formal decision support tools, primarily for MSBP purposes, but which will also be made available to users worldwide via the web.
In essence, users input both taxon (name-related) and collection (e.g. date, location etc) information about a particular seed accession, and the system outputs the most likely successful germination treatment(s).
The tools are based on: data-mining and analysis of our now extensive experience of germinating existing collections (Seed Bank Database); compilations and analyses of the published literature; and modelling based on those analyses, together with collection location data, used extensively in GIS to derive local climate information. The system is continuously up-dated as new information becomes available.
A significant element of this work, concerned specifically with the seed germination requirements of UK native species, has been externally funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and the Sfumato Foundation; and the prototype ‘UK Germination Toolbox’ is now available online, pending further improvement.
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