Australia adds 10,000 samples including native plants to the Global Seed Vault in Norway

Australia adds 10,000 samples including native plants to the Global Seed Vault in Norway

Australia adds 10,000 samples including native plants to the Global Seed Vault in Norway

Updated 13 March 2014, 3:24 AEST

High above the Arctic circle, buried in the remote mountainous Norwegian island of Spitzbergen is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

It's been operating for six years and there are now more than 800,000 seed samples from around the world stored there.

It's designed as a repository of last resort to protect agriculture from being wiped out by disasters, either natural or man-made.

Recently 10,000 packets of Australian seeds were were added to the collection.

The leader of the Australian Grains Genebank Dr Sally Norton escorted some of the new additions to the centre.

Dr Norton says the seeds have been specially stored to prolong their longevity.

"The seed is in a form of stasis, they are stored at minus 18 degrees but the seed is dried down to super dried conditions and sealed in foil packets which are moisture and air proof," she said.

"So they're in boxes on shelves in those conditions can potentially last between 50 and 100 years and still be able to grow relatively easily."

For the first time, the most recent delivery had a number of Australian indigenous wild seed samples.

Relatives of sorghum, rice and beans were included along with the canola, oats, lupins as well as seeds from both temperate and tropical pastures.

Dr Norton says there was a rigorous process in order to get the samples to the facility.

"There were some quiet clear quarantine regulations we had to meet to actually deposit the material into the vault in Norway," she said.

"But also in terms of gaining access back the material we had to have Australian agriculture biosecurity seals on all the boxes, so that any material leaving can come back without requiring the quarantine regulation grow out that most germplasm has to undergo."

Topics: