Plant Diversity ›› 2011, Vol. 33 ›› Issue (01): 11-18.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1143.2011.11023

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Strategies and Challenges in Plant Germplasm Conservation

 LI  De-Zhu-1、Yang-Xiang-Yun-1、Hugh W.Pritchard2   

  1. 1 Germplasm Bank of Wild Species; Key Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650204, China; 2 Seed Conservation Department, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, UK
  • Received:2011-01-30 Revised:2011-02-09 Online:2011-01-21 Published:2011-04-26
  • Supported by:

    The National Basic Research Programme of China (973 Programme, 2007CB411600), the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2005DKA21006) and the Millennium Seed Bank Project of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK, which receives grant-in-aid from the DEFRA, UK


This paper discusses scientific issues, action plans and strategies for plant germplasm conservation in general and seed banking in particular. Germplasm conservation is an insurance policy against extinction, and currently preserves tens of thousands of wild plant species. In this report, we introduce the background and current status of the Germplasm Bank of Wild Species, and compare its strategy with that of other major ex situ conservation facilities in the world, e.g., the Millennium Seed Bank. In the context of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, we also discuss the estimated number of threatened species in China, which could be greater than 25% of the flora. Some scientific conservation-related techniques, such as cryopreservation, are described in brief. Seed banking is the most cost-effective approach in all ex situ conservation approaches. Cryopreservation will become increasingly important in accomplishing the ex situ conservation goal and in enabling the long-term preservation of seeds, including recalcitrant ones. This paper also highlights the necessity of increased efforts to train young scientists in taxonomy and seed biology to improve efficiency, validity of seed identification, and long-term management prospects of seed banks.

Key words: Ex situ conservation, Plant germplasm, Seed banking, Cryopreservation, The Germplasm Bank of Wild Species

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