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Science & Technology

Doomsday vault receives first tree samples

By T.K. Randall
March 2, 2015 · Comment icon 11 comments

The entrance tunnel to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Image Credit: NordGen / Johan Backman
Norway's Svalbard depository enables the storage and research of seeds from all over the world.
Located on the island of Spitsbergen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, the vault, which was constructed in 2008, maintains a collection of more than 20 million seeds belonging to a sizable percentage of the world's plant species.

Its purpose is to store and preserve the seeds to act as backups for those stored in other gene banks across the world. In addition to conserving the seeds in case of an ecological catastrophe, the seed bank also enables scientists to conduct research studies.
This week the vault received its first ever delivery of tree seeds, an addition that scientists are hoping will enable them to monitor how natural forests change over time.

"For me, personally, the catastrophe scheme is not a major motivation," said researcher Mari Rusanen. "It is more important that these samples will, in the future, provide an opportunity to monitor long-term changes in the genetic composition of our natural forests."

Source: Independent | Comments (11)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #2 Posted by rashore 10 years ago
Out of all the nut and fruit tree seeds they could be getting over the last several years... only now they are getting any tree samples, and those are pine trees?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Wondering Soul 10 years ago
I'm glad they are doing this. I can only hope that we start doing this to dna too.
Comment icon #4 Posted by aquatus1 10 years ago
I'm not much for pines. They don't produce much mulch, and aren't self-sustaining to any great extent.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Bavarian Raven 10 years ago
I'm not much for pines. They don't produce much mulch, and aren't self-sustaining to any great extent. Pines are very self sustaining once established. Pine nuts (either for humans or to attract bears, squirrels , and chipmunks), the inner cambium can be eaten , the needles made into a tea that is more vitamin rich then lemons, and you can make tar from the wood. Not to mention lumber and shade.
Comment icon #6 Posted by aquatus1 10 years ago
Yes, they are useful. But they aren't very self-sustaining. As you pointed out, they hoard all the nutrients, and they tend to last a long time. They are useful in an environment that is otherwise producing an abundance, as a sort of long-term or emergency storage (for instance, in the event of fires), but by themselves, don't make for a good forest. The needles don't degrade very quickly, meaning that mulch doesn't form well, meaning that rain runs off instead of being absorbed, which leads to many minerals running off with it, etc. I can understand why they are in the vault. But I can also u... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Raptor Witness 10 years ago
I'm not much for pines. They don't produce much mulch, and aren't self-sustaining to any great extent. You must be thinking of the Garden of Fukushima, again.
Comment icon #8 Posted by aquatus1 10 years ago
Yeah, it's kind of a big deal there, since the oysters rely on the mountains so much in order to grow. Went camping last week up near Fukushima, near a deserted town I found a few years ago. It is really nice now, without so many people walking through the mountains.
Comment icon #9 Posted by PrisonerX 10 years ago
Pines are a pioneer species of tree. This is why they were chosen. They colonize damaged or disturbed ecosystems. There are proper steps which must be followed.
Comment icon #10 Posted by aquatus1 10 years ago
That's one heck of an ecological cataclysm that the Seed Vault is preparing for, if they feel they are going to need pioneer species to start with. But then, when all is said and done, it is probably just a genetic vault, and the order the plants go in is probably of minor consequence.
Comment icon #11 Posted by aquatus1 10 years ago
Off the subject, but I've been reading an indie manag by the name of "7 Seeds" precisely about groups of people waking up in a future world with massive population die-offs, that have to find these vaults created by humans foreseeing this cataclysm. Kind of dark, but entertaining, in a grim reality sort of way. One of the chapters had a group opening a vault and accidentally releasing a mushroom spore that proceeded to destroy the immediate area in just a few weeks.

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