ORAL PRESENTATION: Approaches to ensure ex situ conservation activities capture forest genetic diversity: sharing experiences from the UK National Tree Seed Project

Submitted by : Fady Bruno
Abstract type : Oral presentation
Session type : Conference session 3: CONSERVING and USING GENETIC DIVERSITY
Author Speaker : Clare Trivedi

Information about other authors :

Roberta Gargiulo - Early Career Research Fellow, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK

Sean Hoban - Tree Conservation Biologist, The Morton Arboretum, USA

Abstract :

Well planned seed bank collections play a vital complementary role to in situ conservation and living ex situ collections of forest genetic resources by protecting genetic diversity away from risks in the environment, and providing accessible, well-documented germplasm for research and experimentation. It is vital that such collections capture the genetic diversity of a target species over the geographic area in which it will be used.

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, comprises a range of seed collecting projects worldwide. The UK National Tree Seed Project has placed particular importance on the capture of intra-specific genetic diversity for native trees and shrubs. It has made seed collections from over 6000 trees across 75 species from across the UK. The project provides a useful case study for common challenges to capture genetic diversity in collections, whether for long-term conservation or more immediate use.  

Population geneticists have been involved with the project throughout its lifetime from inception to evaluation, with guidance provided via an expert advisory group and commissioned genetic studies. Genetic approaches were incorporated into development of the seed sampling strategy which, in the absence of detailed knowledge of population genetics, uses biogeographic zones as a proxy for genetic diversity and adaptation. The outcomes of this sampling strategy were evaluated using a modelling approach using simulations and geographic distribution data for the species Fraxinus excelsior. The model estimates that UKNTSP ash collections have captured >90% of all alleles present in Britain. Similar results have been found from a laboratory study on UKNTSP collections of yew Taxus baccata.

The UKNTSP has shared data with projects working to identify Gene Conservation Units and Registered Seed Stands and collections are available to researchers, including those working on tree improvement or to understand variations in traits over geographic areas. As a result the UKNTSP has been a key catalyst for development of the first Strategy for UK Forest Genetic Resources.

Bibliografic references :

Gargiulo, R., Saubin, M., Rizzuto, G., West, B., Fay, M.F., Kallow, S. and Trivedi, C. (in press) Genetic diversity in British populations of Taxus baccata L.: is the seed bank collection representative of the genetic variation in the wild? Biological Conservation. DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2019.01.014

Trivedi, C., Cavers, S., Cottrell, J., Clarke, J., Atkinson, N., (2018) A Strategy for UK Forest Genetic Resources https://www.kew.org/science/projects/uk-forest-genetic-resources-strategy

 Hoban, S.,  Kallow, S., Trivedi, C. (2018) Implementing a new approach to effective conservation of genetic diversity with ash (Fraxinus excelsior) in the UK as a case study. Biological Conservation 225 10–21  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320718302404

Trivedi, C. & Kallow, S. (2017). Benefits and challenges for gene conservation: a view from the UK national tree seed project. In: Sniezko, Richard A.; Man, Gary; Hipkins, Valerie; Woeste, Keith; Gwaze, David; Kliejunas, John T.; McTeague, Brianna A., tech. cords. 2017. Gene conservation of tree species—banking on the future. Proceedings of a workshop. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-963. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 44-47. https://www.fs.usda.gov/pnw-beta/publications/benefits-and-challenges-gene-conservation-view-uk-national-tree-seed-project

Keywords : Seed Banking, Ex situ Conservation,