As part of a global strategy to conserve plant species, the K.C. Irving Centre seeks ​to establish “ex situ” or off-site collections of native species within the Acadian Forest Region. One approach to ex situ conservation is through the collection, desiccation and storing of seeds at -20 C, as part of the “Acadia Seed Bank”. 

Northern red oak is a native tree species of interest for ex situ​ conservation. It is valued as a source of high-quality wood, and is​ an important source of food and shelter for animals. Natural ​rates of regeneration have been low due to various factors such​ as past logging pressures, forest succession dynamics and ​suppression of forest fires. However, this species poses a special ​challenge for seed banking. The seeds of red oak are considered “recalcitrant”, which means they do not tolerate desiccation and conventional freezing storage at -20 C. 

Researchers at the K.C. Irving Centre are therefore investigating ​alternative biotechnological approaches to ex situ conservation ​of red oak. This research will explore the potential of tissue ​culture and cryogenics to propagate and store valuable red oak ​germplasm. Trials are underway to determine methods for​ initiating embryonic tissue cultures.

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