OSSSU - Orchid Seed Science And Sustainable Use

There will be no higher purpose in sustainability without a solid Team that makes it possible. The brightest minds in the Orchid World are @ OSSSU.

Sara Magrini

I am an enthusiastic and passionate orchidologist with a PhD in Forest Ecology, who works in the Tuscia Germplasm Bank (Tuscia University) since 2006 for the conservation of endemic or threatened species of the Italian flora. I am in love with orchids so I deal with all the aspects concerning their reproductive biology and conservation, especially, seed conservation, germination ecology, in vitro reproduction, in situ conservation, and red listing. I was part of the original OSSSU project, as an associate member, since 2009. Currently, I am a member of the Orchid Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, a member of the Executive Board of RIBES, the Italian network of germplasm banks, and a member of the Italian Red List Authority for orchids.

Tim Marks

I joined the Seed Biology Research group at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank in 2006, having previously completed a PhD in plant physiology, and researched tissue culture systems for 20 years. My fascination with orchid seed lies in the potential of such a small structure to survive in the dry state for many years, and my more recent work has focused on how this potential may be enhanced, and how it can be used to effect in orchid conservation. I was part of the original OSSSU project, started in 2007, and have had the privilege to meet and work with members of the group since then. My principal interests lie in the laboratory process of seed storage, and it is using these skills that I hope to help other members of the OSSSU network in the future. I have managed research students, and worked with colleagues from around the world on orchid conservation, and aim to continue the publication of this work in peer reviewed journals, and to promote the OSSSU community internationally. As part of this, I remain a member of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group.

Hugh Pritchard

I joined Kew more than 30 years ago to research orchid seed longevity and have retained a strong interest in orchid seed biology ever since, with > 10% of my > 100 international peer review journal publications on that topic. Apart from editing the book ‘Modern Methods in Orchid Conservation (CUP, 1989), I have co-written three major reviews on orchids: seed storage (1993, Selbyana) with Phil Seaton; conservation (2010, Bot Rev) with Seaton and others; and cryobiotechnology (2016 Biotech Adv) with Elena Popova et al. Innovative findings from my research include: the first successful cryopreservation of orchid seeds, including with their fungal symbionts; that orchid seed generally have short lifespans compared to other angiosperms; and with Tim Marks, the kinetics of orchid pollen longevity. I retain an interest in improving orchid seed storage and am also progressing work with OSSSU collaborators on orchid seed germination across the family. I led the original Darwin Initiative-funded project on OSSSU with 15 countries in Latin America and Asia. I am a member of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group.

Phil Seaton

I became an amateur orchid grower as a young biology lecturer more than 40 years ago. What began as a hobby rapidly evolved into a research interest in micropropagation and the long-term storage of orchid seeds. Having determined that the dry seeds of many species have the potential to survive for many years when maintained at low temperatures, the opportunity to turn theory into practice came about when, in 2007, I was appointed project manager of OSSSU. Having reached retirement age, I am continuing my involvement as an Honorary Research Associate of Kew. As an educator I am interested in communicating the importance of conserving orchid biodiversity through giving lectures and talks, writing popular articles and scientific papers and producing visual materials. I have authored, co-authored, and illustrated three books about micropropagation and cultivation of orchids. I manage an orchid laboratory in a local school where I teach both citizen scientists and schoolchildren how to grow orchids from seed using both symbiotic and asymbiotic techniques. I remain a Trustee of Orchid Conservation International, and a member of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group.

Kanchit Thammasiri

I was trained in orchid breeding for M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Hawaii during 1981-1984. After graduation, I worked at the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives in charge of wild Thai orchid collection, orchid production and breeding. Then, I moved to work as a lecturer at the Department of Plant Science, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University where I can disseminate my orchid knowledge and experience. My interest is to work on ex situ Thai orchid conservation by developing new techniques for cryopreservation and sustainable use through efficient and low cost production and breeding (making commercial orchid cultivars from outstanding Thai orchid species). I was persuaded by Philip Seaton and Hugh Pritchard to join the OSSSU project since the beginning and went for its meetings in China and Costa Rica. I am glad to join the OSSSU network which help me widen my knowledge, as well as have friends from around the world who have the same interest in orchid seed conservation.

Nelson & Cici

I became an amateur orchid grower as a teenager and have continued to work on this plant family ever since, and with a special interest in the lithophytic Cattleyas. During my under graduate studies in Agronomy, I focused on plant breeding and tissue culture. I started my collection of this genus during the 1990’s and have been successful in growing some 75% of them, and have been very keen to propagate as many as possible. A number of these species are endemic to particular states in Brazil, where their survival in the wild is threatened, and some are on the verge of extinction. I married Ceci in 1996, who like me is an agronomist, but with a specialization in Seed Technology. We both did our PhD studies on Seed Biology; my thesis was presented in 1999, while Ceci’s was presented in 2001. In 2004, we were invited to participate at the Second International Orchid Conservation Conference in Sarasota, where we presented our data on seed storage and germination from many tropical orchid species. In 2006, we received an invitation to be part of the OSSSU project, and joined in 2008. We both find orchid seeds a fascinating subject for research, as these unique tiny seeds still present a ‘blank book’ in the understanding of their physiology, despite their existence in almost all environments where they can be found growing in habitats ranging from the soil through to the heights of the tree canopy. We are working in a Crop Production team in an Agronomy college, where a key objective is to understand and support sustainable conservation of orchid germplasm under both in situ and ex situ conditions. The questions these issues raise has helped enormously in attracting students to join us in this research. We are currently leading a team of students researching topics ranging from pollen viability and pollination, to seed maturation, storage and biochemistry. A recent result of our work was a methodology paper for the OSSSU project for viability testing of seeds using tetrazolium.

Be part of OSSSU Team

OSSSU is looking for talented people in the World of Orchids to join our team!