Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust

Saving our Species threatened seed program with The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Seed vault at Australian PlantBankThe Australian Institute of Botanical Science (The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust) is working with Saving our Species to create a collection of threatened seeds, providing an insurance policy against the extinction of native plants in the wild.

The collection is stored at the Institute’s award-winning Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. Over 1300 threatened species seed collections have been made from across NSW, with 63% of the state’s threatened flora now safely held at the Australian PlantBank.

Operating out of the Institute’s Australian PlantBank facility, the seed collecting team and scientists are working with SoS to locate and scale up seed collections from high priority threatened plants across NSW.

As many of these plants are highly restricted and under threat from climate change, bush fires and habitat destruction, a key objective is to collect seed from multiple populations and maximise genetic diversity. The plant material can then be used for future conservation actions, such as establishing or strengthening new populations.

Caledenia dorrigoensisOrchids often require specific pollinators and soil fungi (mycorrhizae) to germinate and reproduce. This SoS project is focusing on propagating eight threatened orchids from south east NSW, such as the greenhood (Pterostylis) and spider (Caladenia) orchids. To successfully grow these orchids, scientists based at the Australian PlantBank need to isolate and grow the symbiotic fungi (mycorrihizae) from the soil and plant cells. This will help scientists successfully store orchid seeds at PlantBank and grow healthy plants for translocation projects.

Tubestock at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan Nursery

Critically endangered plants like the Bankstown Hibbertia (Hibbertia puberula subsp. glabrescens) urgently need additional wild populations to prevent their extinction. To maximise genetic diversity and ensure long-term survival, scientists are using the latest genetic tools to choose suitable plants for seed collection and propagation. Genetically optimal plants are then grown at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan Nursery and planted in new bushland locations.

Phytophthora cinnamomi growing out from infected roots in agarPhytophthora cinnamomi is a deadly soil-borne pathogen that causes root rot, dieback and death in plants, including a wide range of threatened plants in NSW. Scientists at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science are testing 40 of our most threatened plants to determine their susceptibility to the devastating disease. The team is also working on a state-wide Phytophthora risk map to identify key areas to invest future disease management and monitoring activities to protect native flora.

Brigalow community at Brigalow State Conservation Area, 2019Brigalow, Semi-evergreen Vine Thicket and Ooline are three threatened ecological communities in northwest NSW that are under intense landscape pressures. They are highly susceptible to environmental change and this SoS project aims to understand how flowering, seed production and seed germination of key plant species within these three communities respond to climate change. The research will provide critical information to protect species and establish successful restoration projects.