Project Baseline: A new research seed bank for the scientific community that greatly expands opportunities to use the resurrection approach
Project Baseline is a new research-grade seed bank that will provide an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to study plant evolution in response to environmental change over the next 50 years using the resurrection approach. In this is presentation, I will provide information about the extent of this new resource that is available to the scientific community and explain how researchers can access the materials. This living genome bank will permit experiments that extend beyond the rare cases where propagules (e.g., stored seeds, seeds preserved in tundra soils, or eggs in lake sediments) have been fortuitously available in a condition to be revived and grown side-by-side with their contemporary descendants. We are intentionally collecting seeds by maternal line from populations across geographical ranges of a diverse group of species, including sister taxa, and storing these propagules using best practices that will preserve their viability and diversity. The overall goal of this project is to provide representative samples of historical populations for future studies using the resurrection approach.
To date, we have collected seeds from nearly more than 600 populations from well over 50 plant species with diverse life history attributes. Information about species and locations are available on our web page, http://baselineseedbank.org/. Other environmental data and photographs will be made accessible to researchers in a data base in the near future. The seeds themselves are stored by maternal line (100-200 lines per population) at the ARS USDA National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO. With this valuable resource secured, biologists will be able to grow genetically representative samples of past populations contemporaneously with modern samples, applying both long-established and recently developed genetic approaches, as well as ones yet to be developed, to dissect the architecture of genetic change.