LETTERS TO THE EDITORS
To the Editors:
I enjoyed reading the book excerpt “Seeds on Ice” about the seed bank that ensures that crop diversity may be maintained in the future, included in the September–October issue. What about saving seeds of endangered wild plants?
Stony Brook, NY
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault stores seeds from plants that are wild relatives of crop plants, to ensure a wider pool of potentially useful genetic traits, and some of these wild relatives could be endangered. However, the seed vault focuses on storing seeds from worldwide genebanks of plants related to agriculture, and therefore doesn’t store seeds from plants that are not related to crops, whether or not they are endangered. One exception, however, is that the vault stores general plant seeds from Svalbard, its hosting location; seeds from about 88 plant species of the region are stored, 20 of which are endangered. However, the Millennium Seed Bank in the United Kingdom focuses on seeds of wild plants.