Seed Conservation

Coordinating the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) to conserve wild plant species worldwide.

Germinated seed on a petri dish

Team lead: Dr Elinor Breman

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) is the largest ex situ plant conservation programme in the world. Based at the Millennium Seed Bank, the Seed Conservation team works with partners in the UK and around the world to conserve 25% of the world’s bankable plant species by 2020.

We are also working to increase the quality and genetic diversity of collections. With 60,000 to 100,000 plant species currently threatened with extinction, our priority is to focus on those species most at risk – the endangered and the endemic, plus those likely to be most useful in the future. Climate change also presents significant threats to plant biodiversity and we seek collections from ecosystems most at risk.

Current themes of work in the seed conservation team are: forestry, trees and crop wild relatives. We are collecting seeds of 3,000 tree species worldwide, among them the world’s rarest, most threatened and most useful tree species. The UK National Tree Seed Project is creating a genetically diverse tree seed collection as a resource for conservation and research addressing the challenges faced by woodlands.

Crop wild relative species hold important traits for the development of resilience to the impacts of climate change, and yet they are currently under-represented in the world's seed bank collections. Working with partners around the world, we are banking seed collections which cover the wild relative gene pools of the world’s 29 major crops.

Team members

Senior Research Leader
Dr Elinor Breman

Conservation partnership coordinators
Dr Aisyah Faruk
Dr Kate Hardwick
Thomas Heller
Jo Osborne
Tim Pearce
Michael Way

Research leader - Madagascar
Stuart Cable

Seed conservation project officers
Sharon Balding

Crop Wild Relatives Project coordinators
Dr Christopher Cockel

Partnerships officer
Dr Alice Hudson

Species Conservation Researcher
Charlotte Phillips

Training coordinator
Dr Hanna Oldfield

Administrative assistant 
Kathy Gibb

MSB Partnership Data Warehouse Project Officer
Naomi Carvey