Sharing the secret of designer seeds to improve native restoration

A special coating for the seeds of native plants has been developed by Curtin University researchers, who have made their technique freely available online.

They hope it will help scientists around the world apply ‘designer seed technologies’ to native plant species, and help bring degraded landscapes back to life.

The most cost-effective approach for restoring an ecosystem is by planting native seeds. But the seeds often fail because of poor soil quality and the tough conditions on degraded lands.

Seed coating involves covering seeds with materials to improve protection, germination and seedling growth. It was originally designed for agriculture, but may be part of the solution for global landscape restoration.

However seed coating ‘recipes’ are owned and kept secret by private seed companies and frequently used for marketing purposes (like coloured seeds).

By re-developing a seed coating from scratch, the team are the first to publish and make openly available these protocols.

“The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and many other things are a product of healthy ecosystems,” says Simone Pedrini of Curtin University, who led the research.

“Yet, in Australia and all over the world, natural ecosystems are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate. We hope scientists will use our recipe to help improve the success of restoration attempts.”

The research was pulished by the International Seed Testing Association in July 2018. Read it here.

Image: Curtin University researcher Simone Pedrini with coated seed of Wallaby grass. Credit: H. Palmer.

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