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Improved access to Millennium Seed Bank Project seed collections

2 November 2012

One of the key priorities for the MSBP is to facilitate better access to their collections so that they may be used by scientists and researchers worldwide. In particular the MSBP seeks to enable innovation, adaptation and resilience in the fields of agriculture, horticulture, forestry and habitat restoration. As part of this work, the MSBP is happy to announce that their seed lists have been greatly improved for the benefit of all users.

Two seed lists are available at One is for those organisations wishing to request seed under the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) for research, breeding or training related to food and fodder production. The other list is for all other requests for use in research, habitat restoration and species re-introductions.

A key change is that no prior registration is now required in order to browse the collections which are available. The search tools have been made much more user friendly and much of the guidance text has also been provided in Spanish and French.

Secondly, over 11,000 additional collections have been added to this release of the seed list, mainly representing collections which cannot be distribute by Kew, but which may be available from the partner seed bank in the country of origin. In this case the contact information currently held for the donor organisation is displayed. Collections are included in the seed list if there is enough seed available to allow distribution and if a germination protocol is available.

All seeds from Kew are supplied with data on collection location and a germination protocol.

The value of MSBP seed collections: Japanese knotweed case study

The UK research organisation CABI has been investigating potential biological control agents for the invasive plant Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica). Staff had identified a potential insect agent but wished to test its host specificity. The MSBP provided seed from 48 species for this purpose and the resulting research concluded that the insect was indeed specific to the Japanese knotweed. Clearance of Japanese knotweed costs the UK alone £166 million per annum which gives an indication of the financial value of the MSBP collections for research.

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