Conservation Seed Science

Crab's Eyes seedThe Seed Science team undertakes research into theoretical and applied aspects of seed biology, physiology, and ecology. This research aims to advance the underlying principles of seed biology and translate these into technologies for plant propagation, conservation, and landscape restoration. Seed science supports the Western Australian Seed Technology Centre which plays a vital role in conserving WA’s biodiversity through the long-term storage of seeds.

Research programs focus on seed collection, quality assessment and control, seed banking, seed germination and dormancy, and techniques for improving seed delivery and seedling establishment at restoration sites. The integration of these research areas is necessary to improve the use of native seeds in plant conservation and the restoration of degraded habitats. Seed ecological research aims to understand the role of seeds in shaping the establishment, reproduction, and persistence of plant species and communities.

Active research programs cover diverse ecosystems across Western Australia from the south coast to the Kimberley, and include coastal dune systems, mediterranean forests and woodlands, kwongan heathlands, semi-arid and arid rangelands, and vernal pools and wetlands.

Key research themes include:

  • Characterising seed storage behaviour and longevity, and developing storage protocols for effective seed banking.

  • Classifying seed dormancy types and developing reliable methods for seed germination.

  • Understanding the role and applications of smoke, and germination-active chemicals isolated from smoke, in seed germination ecology, restoration, horticulture, and agriculture.

  • Assessing seed persistence, germination, and dormancy traits in soil and canopy seed banks.

  • Developing the application of seed enhancements including seed priming, seed coating and pelleting, and seed delivery technologies to improve seedling establishment in broad-acre and minesite restoration.

Seed science and technology underpins our ability to conserve plants and to achieve large-scale, biodiverse, and sustainable restoration. The Seed Science team undertakes integrated research on seed biology, ecology and physiology to improve the use of native seeds in conservation and restoration.

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The key research areas for Conservation Seed Science are seed phenology, quality and supply; seed dormancy; seed germination; seed banking and, seed enhancement.

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Current Seed Science research projects are:

Restoration Seedbank Initiative (2013 - 2017)

Chief Investigators: Prof. Kingsley Dixon, Dr David Merritt, Mr Todd Erickson, Dr Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, Dr Shane Turner. Industry partner: BHP Billiton Iron Ore.

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Key outcomes of the Conservation Seed Science team include seed longevity, seed germination, seed dormancy, smoke technology and weed control.

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Please contact Dr David Merritt with any enquiries relating to Conservation Seed Science.

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