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Review of the ANPC’s ‘Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia’ guidelines


The publication ‘Plant Germplasm Conservation in Australia – strategies and guidelines for developing, managing and utilising ex situ collections’ (known as the Germplasm Guidelines) have been revised with grant funding from The Ian Potter Foundation. The updated Germplasm Guidelines will complement the recent revision of the Guidelines for Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia (2018) and the current review of the Florabank Guidelines, a component of the Healthy Seeds Project (in prep.).

Germplasm Guidelines steering committee members

  • ANPC Project Manager (Germplasm Guidelines); Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson,
  • ANPC Business Manager: Ms Jo Lynch,
  • ANPC Project Manager (Florabank Guidelines): Dr Lucy Commander,
  • CSIRO: Dr Linda Broadhurst,
  • Australian Seed Bank Partnership: Mr Damian Wrigley,
  • Australian Grains Genebank: Dr Sally Norton,
  • Royal Botanic Garden Sydney: Dr Cathy Offord,
  • Australian National Botanic Gardens: Dr Lydia Guja,
  • Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria: Dr Neville Walsh,
  • Australian Tree Seed Centre: Dr David Bush,
  • Botanic Gardens Australia and New Zealand/Auckland Botanic Garden: Ms Rebecca Stanley
  • NSW Dept of Planning, Industry and Environment: Dr Tony Auld.

The steering committee also gratefully acknowledges the input of Dr David Coates and Mr Bob Makinson.

Purpose of the Germplasm Guidelines

The Germplasm Guidelines are focused on conservation, particularly of threatened plant species, within a highly endemic and diverse Australian flora. The Guidelines provide a science-based best practice guide for the ideal management of ex situ (off site) collections of seeds, plant tissues or whole plants.

The Guidelines address the spectrum of activities from plant material collection through to storage and a diverse range of uses, including species recovery, translocation of nursery-grown plants or seeds, research, establishment of living collections, education, horticultural display and sustainable plant development. As well as a physical product – the plants used in these situations – the Guidelines address the collection and sharing of data gathered during this process. Capturing and sharing our knowledge contributes to our understanding of Australia’s unique flora and acknowledges that ex situ conservation processes are always being refined, to meet new challenges and threats.

Target Audience

The guidelines aim to provide those engaged in seed collection, storage and use for plant conservation with access to current research findings, to maximise the value of every collection. The Guidelines will be used by scientists, conservation agencies and threatened species units at state and federal levels, seed banks and botanic gardens.

Users may be:

  • experienced seed collectors.
  • students.
  • professionals new to plant conservation projects.
  • those retraining or adding ex situ conservation activities to their skill sets and recovery plans.
  • ecological consultants.
  • bush regenerators.
  • those working within government and Natural Resource Management agencies at all levels.
  • not-for-profit or volunteer conservation groups.

The Guidelines aim to support conservation of Australian plant species but may also be valuable to conservation groups and those managing seed banks of different floras, especially those beginning the critical work of conserving diversity in ex situ collections. While some seedbanks and conservation partnerships are well-resourced, the authors of the Guidelines aim to meet the needs of users at a range of resource levels.

Achievements to date:

The steering committee and Project Manager have invited chapter and case study contributions from more than 50 scientists, practitioners and horticulturists around Australia and New Zealand, alongside several international collaborators. The authors’ in-kind contributions amount to hundreds of hours collating principles and practices relating to a wide range of germplasm collections. Extended versions of some case studies relating to the Guidelines have been published in Australasian Plant Conservation and you are welcome to download the full text of these articles.

Existing chapters have been updated and include many new case studies:

  • Options and considerations for germplasm conservation.
  • Seed and vegetative material collection.
  • Seed banking.
  • Seed germination and dormancy.
  • Tissue culture.
  • Cryopreservation.
  • Living plant collections.

New chapters and case studies will be added with topics to cover:

  • Genetic guidelines for acquiring and maintaining collections.
  • Identifying and conserving non-orthodox species.
  • The role of the nursery in ex situ conservation.
  • Collection and storage of orchids and symbionts.
  • Storage and maintenance of special collections such as pollen, spores and carnivorous plants.
  • Risk management and crisis preparation.
  • Maintenance and utilisation of ex situ collections.

The peer review process is now complete, and the graphic design process is underway. The Guidelines will be launched on Tuesday 7 September 2021 at the upcoming Australasian Seed Science Conference.

The ANPC has also been successful in applying for additional funding to hold an Australian Academy of Science Fenner Conference on the Environment on Thursday 9 September 2021 with the theme ‘Exceptional Times, Exceptional Plants: Ex situ conservation strategies for Australian plants that cannot be conserved by conventional seed banking methods’. Free registration for the Fenner Conference is now open. Download the Conference Program.

Workshops, audio and video content

Following publication of the Guidelines in September 2021, the ANPC will develop a range of workshops as well as audio and video content to support our partners in ex situ conservation throughout Australia.

We invite you to subscribe to the free ANPC e-newsletter ANPC News for all the latest information on the Germplasm Guidelines revision.

Key staff

Amelia Martyn Yenson, Project Officer (Germplasm Guidelines)

For more information, please email the ANPC Project Manager (Germplasm Guidelines) Dr Amelia Martyn Yenson.