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About OSSSU

 

   

 

Both because orchid embryos are minute, containing a minimum of food reserves, and their absolute requirement to form liaisons with suitable fungal partners to germinate in their natural habitats, it was thought that these micro-seeds, in some undefined way, might differ from seeds of other plant families and be impossible to store over the long-term. However, we now know that improved longevity as a result of drying is similar in orchids to other species, thus potentially they can be stored in seed banks at refrigerator or freezer temperatures for many decades.

Orchid Seed Stores for Sustainable Use (OSSSU) is a Darwin Initiative project designed to establish orchid seed banking around the globe using conventional seed banking techniques. With around 25,000 species currently known to science, the orchid family is perhaps the largest and most diverse.

OSSSU aims to collect and store of seed of a minimum of 250 species, focusing on orchid hot spots in the Asian and the Central and South American regions, representing the orchid floras of 16 participating countries: China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam; Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala and Mexico.

Regional workshops have been held in Chengdu, China and Quito, Ecuador in October and November 2007 respectively. More than forty participants reflected a wide range of biotechnology experience in the laboratory, horticulture and natural history, and were provided with opportunities to exchange experience and expertise in seed storage and in vitro germination techniques, to develop common protocols and to set annual targets for species stored in each individual country. OSSSU, however, is only the beginning. We would like to recruit more institutions, and to set a much more ambitious target of seeds representing 1000 orchid species in storage by 2015 with 30 countries.