Seed and Tissue Bank Programs

  • Just some of the staff and volunteers, as well as undergrad and grad student researchers, who contributed to the Acadia Seedbank in 2017/2018.

  • Seedbank Intern April Muirhead collecting seeds at Porter's Point, King's County, Nova Scotia 

  • After seeds are collected, Seed Collection Data Sheets must be filled out to document info on the species collected and the collection site.

  • The samples that are collected usually contain a lot of extraneous tissues that must be removed.

  • A big thank you is in order to our many volunteers, who spend hours cleaning the seed samples. 

    Volunteers Sheila Primett and Sara Weintraub shown here. 

  • Processed seed samples ready for storage.

  • Samples are removed from storage periodically, and tested to determine germination percentages.

  • Seed Bank intern Samuel Jean, assessing germination in large-leaved avens (Geum macrophyllum), a cousin of Geum peckii, an endangered Nova Scotia plant species.

  • In some cases seedlings are transferred to soil in pots for use by student or faculty researchers interested in a particular species. These particular seedlings are Rockrose (Crocanthemum canadense), a plant considered to be critically imperilled in Nova Scotia.

  • Ultimately some plants are transferred into the K.C.Irving Centre Research Gardens, the Harrriet Irving Botanical Gardens, or in a few cases, back to their natural habitat somewhere in Nova Scotia.  This image shows Eastern Mountain Avens (Geum peckii), being watered in the Irving Centre Research Gardens.

  • In some cases researchers apply sterile tissue culture techniques (micropropagation) to multiply plants. These are 5 species from the Acadian Forest region that have been propagated and maintained by tissue culture.

  • Former Environmental Science Honours student Sarah Fancy (ENVS 2017), examining the Geum peckii plantlets she cloned via tissue culture.

Seed and Tissue Bank Programs

Native plant species around the world are becoming increasingly threatened due to habitat loss, over exploitation, climate change, disease outbreaks and competitive pressure from invasive species. There is also serious concern worldwide about the potential risks to food security due to over-reliance on relatively few cultivars of crop plants and the decline in biodiversity through loss of wild relatives.  A key strategy in the global effort to conserve the biodiversity of plant species 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 ( Norway), Millennium Seed Bank (England), Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry ( Russia) and the National Center for Genetic Resources ( USA). Other major seed banks can be found in the Phillippines, Taiwan, Australia, Peru, Columbia, India and Nigeria. Canada currently maintains seed bank/genetic resource facilities in Saskatoon, Harrow and Fredericton, with emphasis on agricultural crops, fruit crops and forest trees, respectively. A more comprehensive approach is needed for conservation of native species in various regions of Canada, including those within the Acadian Forest Region (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, eastern portions of Quebec and USA).

Efforts are underway to develop and expand the seed bank program within the Irving Biodiversity Collection, located at the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre, Acadia University, to conserve native plants of the Acadian Forest Region and associated wetlands. Research activity has accelerated since 2013, due in large part to valuable funding support from several sources, including the Arthur Irving Academy, Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources Habitat Conservation Fund, Environment Canada Internship Programs and TD Friends of the Environment Fund. To date, more than 50 native species are being stored and tested within the seed bank. Acadia students have been extensively involved in seed bank related research, through volunteering, internships and academic requirements for their degree programs. In addition, numerous staff and other volunteers, such as the Friends of the Garden group, have been active in advancing the seed bank program over the past four years.