Seeds are surreptitiously hitching a ride on human visitors to Antarctica, threatening to sow invasive species in one of the last remaining pristine environments on Earth. About 20 percent of visitors to the frozen continent bring stowaway seeds on their clothing and luggage, according to a new study. The research highlights the potential risk to Antarctica’s indigenous species, but also the impressive traveling abilities of plants.
On the frozen edge of the Kolyma River in northeastern Siberia, in an ancient pantry harboring seeds and other stores, an Arctic ground squirrel burrowed into the dirt and buried a small, dark fruit from a flowering plant. The squirrel's prize quickly froze in the cold ground and was preserved in permafrost, waiting to grow into a fully fledged flowering plant until it was unearthed again. After 30,000 years, it finally was. Scientists in Russia have now regenerated this Pleistocene plant, transplanting it into a pot in the lab. A year later, it grew forth and bore fruit.
The specimen is distinctly different from the modern-day version of Silene stenophylla, or narrow-leafed Campion. It suggests that the permafrost is a potential new source of ancient gene pools long believed to be extinct, scientists said.
ST. LOUIS — In a nondescript basement lab, jeans-clad engineers clutch blueprints, scrape stepladders across the unfinished floor and chat about the Cardinals as they tighten bolts on a new prototype device. At first glance, it could be any machine shop in the country.
But then you notice the wispy strands of soybean seedlings curling to life, their root tendrils bunched into test tubes lightly packed with soil, and you remember — this place is all about seeds.
During the siege of Leningrad, 12 scientists starved to death rather than eat the grains stored at Pavlosk Agricultural Station, the world’s first seed bank. According to an AP story, their efforts to save the seeds for future generations may now be in vain after a Russian court approved plans to raze the station’s fields of plants so a developer can build luxury homes.
Considering all the nasty politics that have been dragged into today's eco debate, it's nice to see someone out there worshipping Mother Nature the old-fashioned way: by building a humongous, over-the-top structure that inspires awe regardless of where your politics lie.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, designed to preserve the world's crops, turns one year old today
By Susannah F. LockePosted 02.26.2009 at 5:44 am 0 Comments
What do you get a seed bank for its birthday? More seeds, of course.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault celebrates its first birthday today with the addition of 90,000 seed samples. The vault serves as a heavy-duty backup for gene banks around the world, which strive to save humanity (and our food supply) from the scourges of monoculture and environmental catastrophes.