Seed is the most and basic part of the plant that plays the role of re-growing the plant, conserving and transferring the plants genetic material. It has also basic effect on dispersion, propagation and plant viability in hard conditions. Seeds have supported the great part of the food of the human, animal and birds. In addition, the seeds have many medicinal, industrial and commercial effects in human life. Human civilization was started with seed recognition, collection, sowing and harvesting the seeds.
Although in-situ conservation is the best for maintaining the plant genetic resources, many difficulties such as climate changes, irregular plant use, over grazing and also natural and unnatural events pushed to ex-situ plant conservation. Especially this method has grate importance in conserving the plants that are in danger and extinction. Depending upon the seeds or plant material resources, they are conserved in wide range of cold temperatures that is between zero to -196 degree centigrade.
Documents have shown that natural resources gene-bank division has begun its activities since 1960 decade in Research Institute of Forest and Rangeland (RIFR). Because, the plant genetic resources conservation have most priority, especially conserving the endemic and also plants that are under extinction, RIFR decided to increase the level of the gene bank unit to Gene bank division. So, it restarts to reorganize the collection and evaluation of the range, medicinal and forest plant genetic materials.
The organization chart of the natural resources gene bank, as follow:
۱- Seed collection and Identification Group (SIG)
۲- Evaluation and Regeneration Group (ERG)
۳- Protection and Conservation Group (PCG)
۴- Information and Data Management Unit (IDMU)
Seed collection and Identification Group (SIG)
This group includes 3 units;
Forest plants unit – Range plants unit- Medical plants unit.
The specialists of the seed collection and Identification group with cooperation of 28 province experts are collecting the suitable seeds according the standard protocol. It is determined to collect 8000 seeds for the range and medicinal plant accessions. After seed collection, it is tried to identify the genus and species name of the plant seeds.
Evaluation and Regeneration Group (ERG)
This group having 3 units:
-Genetic and Breeding unit-Biotechnology unit-Germplasm and Seed Regeneration unit.
Cytogenetic laboratory, which is equipped with microscope having monitor system and electrophoresis, conducts the cytogenetic evaluation and seed morphological characteristics to prepare the endemic seed color atlas. Cytogenetic laboratory tries to determine the chromosome number of the collected seeds for clearing the possibility of crossing between species.
Furthermore the mitotic, and meiotic divisions, DNA and protein electrophoresis are being carried out in this laboratory. Cytogenetical studies covered 21genus of legumenoseae family, including 65 Onobrychis species and one genus of grass family which included 25 Lolium species. Biotechnology laboratory has been equipped with tissu culture chamber and instruments. Research activities in biotechnology laboratory include:
-Propagation of the plants that their seeds no emerged or the plants showing abnormalities
-Assaying the seed health via culturing the seeds on PDA
-Studying some parts of the Nitrogen fixation processes and mycorrhiza also.
Field germplasms that are used for regeneration and Evaluation of the seeds covered 7 hectare – in alborz research center. So far (2004), 1700 accessions were regenerated or identified. Regeneration covered the seeds, which have been reduced their germination percentage or their quantity decreased by exchanging processes.
Protection and Conservation Group (PCG)
This group has 5 units as follow:
• Seed Exchange Unit
• Seed Storage and Cold room Unit
• Cleaning unit and
• Seed Technology Unit
In seed exchange unit, after recording all of the seed requests, if the requested seed were available in active cold room, it would be handed over to applicant. Most of the applicants are from universities, research institutes, research centers and students of different colleges. Within last seven years, the numbers of seed accessions in which presented to our colleagues were more than 1950. In this group, after receiving the seed accessions, there are given a new code number, cleaned with particular methods and then hand over to seed technology unit for different standard seed testing. After completion of mentioned processes, each seed sample would be divided in two samples and packed in aluminum and polyethylene packs. These samples will be kept in permanent and active cold rooms respectively. It is clear those less quantity seed samples, seed samples with low germination percentage, decreased seed samples following seed exchange would be in queue of regeneration. In seed technology unit, all the standard seed testing, such as moisture percentage, 1000 seed weight, germination percentage and viability would be carried out and recorded. In the case of facing with any abnormalities, different needed seed treatments would be implemented.
Information and Data Management Unit (IDMU)
Because of importance of seed information and data, in information and data management unit, these are recorded and saved in particular unit. After finishing the seed testing, all the recorded information would be given to IDMU. In this unit, all the data would be saved in such a way in which obtaining different characteristics of each plant family, genus, species or accessions with their distribution map would be possible.
So far, the number of accessions, which have been recorded, reached more than 15000. Records have shown that seed samples have been sent to applicants according their request .It includes 600 seed samples for provinces research centers, 250 for different research divisions in RIFR, 400 seed sample for universities and colleges and 700 seed samples for our colleagues in gene bank. For being certain of safe keeping the seed information and data, back up files have been prepared.