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Banking site soil for the germination of terrestrial orchid seed collections

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The conservation of terrestrial orchid seed is complicated by the requirement for a mycorrhizal association to initiate germination. As the fungi required for these associations reside in soil in the vicinity of orchids, an experiment was conducted to determine the potential for preserving fungal symbionts by storing site soil. Soil samples were removed from a potted collection of the endangered Pterostylis saxicola and subjected to storage at <10, 17.5, 47 and 100% relative humidity, and temperatures of 23, 4 and −18°C. The soil samples were then tested for their ability to initiate germination after periods of 0, 4, 8 and 12 months. Storage duration was found to be the only factor significantly affecting fungal survival, with the ability to initiate germination declining steadily over the 12 month period. More research is required to determine optimal storage conditions for maintaining fungal viability; however, we believe that the storage of site soil may be a useful adjunct to existing seed banking procedures for terrestrial orchids and for other taxa dependent on mycorrhizal associations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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  • Seed Science and Technology (SST) is one of the leading international journals featuring original papers and review articles on seed quality and physiology as related to seed production, harvest, processing, sampling, storage, distribution and testing. This widely recognised journal is designed to meet the needs of researchers, advisers and all those involved in the improvement and technical control of seed quality.
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