Creation of long-term seed banks of woody species as a real way to preserve their gene pools

Institute of Biology and Soil Science FEB RAS, Vladivostok, Russia

The forests of the Russian Far East Federal District constitute 55 % of total country forestry resources. So the task of preservation of forests genetic resources under the conditions of expanding ecological disasters area after fires and cuttings has become one of crucial importance. Further development of a network of specially preserved natural areas and additional localization of reservations of different functions (species preservation in situ) cannot really protect woodlands from harmful pests and numerous annual fires in Siberia and the Russian Far East. To preserve the woody species gene pool, one should take urgent measures based on state-of-the-art scientific achievements and worldwide experience. The seeds of 27 Far East woody plants represented by coniferous (softwood) and deciduous (hardwood) species as well as by rare and medicinal bushes and lianas were investigated. The processes of seed natural ageing are known to occur under any storage conditions. Determination of main reserve substances in the seeds was performed by the biochemical methods presented below. For example, the qualitative changes after 10 years of storage were found for virtually all isomers of fatty acids of the Pinus koraiensis seeds. These changes inevitably produce a loss of the seeds storage vitality, which is reduced by up to 71 % during the storage period. The investigation indicates to the following advantages of seeds cryopreservation: 1) preservation of seeds vitality for longer periods; 2) genetic modifications in seeds is minimal, compared to standard storage. We believe that it is not reasonable to recommend cryopreservation of large batches of seeds stored for forest restoration purposes for the period between abundant harvests, since such seeds can be stored efficiently at low temperatures.

2012 Organizing Committee