Plant biodiversity is threatened around the world, and our Acadia Seed Bank is a model for preserving it.
Native plants face stress from habitat loss, over-exploitation, climate change, disease outbreaks, and competitive pressure from invasive plants. The disappearance of native species also jeopardizes food security by fostering over-reliance on relatively few cultivars of crop plants.
A key strategy in the global effort to conserve plant biodiversity is the long-term banking of seed in various types of cold storage facilities. Some of the largest seed banks include Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway (crop plants) and the Millennium Seed Bank in England (native plants). Canada currently maintains several seed bank/genetic resource facilities, but with an emphasis on agricultural crops, fruit crops, and forest trees.
The Acadia Seed Bank is uniquely focused on the conservation of native plants from within the Acadian Forest Region and its associated wetlands. To date, more than 75 native species, including many rare and endangered species, have been collected, studied, and stored.
Acadia students are involved in seed bank-related activities through volunteering, internships, and academic requirements for their degree programs. In addition, numerous staff and other volunteers, such as the Friends of the Acadian Forest Society, have been instrumental in advancing the seed bank program. Since 2013 Dr. Robin Browne, propagation specialist, has been the driving force behind the seed bank development by sourcing funding and researching methodologies.
The Seed Bank also makes extensive use of tissue culture facilities in the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre. Tissue culture procedures can provide benefits in propagating and preserving native plant germplasm. Research in the tissue culture lab at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre is focused on the development of ‟micro”-propagation procedures for rare and endangered plants of the Acadian Forest Region. For more information on the Acadia Seed Bank please contact Dr. Robin Browne, propagation specialist, or Alain Belliveau, Irving Biodiversity Collections Manager of the E.C. Smith Herbarium.