“Ten-Thousand-Plant-Species Project” Wins 1st Prize
Recently XTBG received the good news that the project named “Introduction and Conservation of Tropical Plant Germplasm Resources and Research on Resource Plants” (hereafter “Ten-thousand–Plant-Species Project” for short) contracted by the Garden has been awarded the first prize of Yunnan Provincial Science & Technology Progress 2005.
As a key S&T project in the period of the 10th five-year Plan, “Ten-thousand–Plant-Species Project” has gained much attention and support from both the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Yunnan Provincial Government. With 10,000 plant species conserved in the open fields, XTBG has become one of the botanical gardens with the richest outdoor plants in the world. The implementation of the Project has greatly contributed to the sustainable development of XTBG and the social economic development of the local areas as well.
With the implementation of the Project, XTBG has made innovations in the following aspects:
- Constructing living plant collections with scientific contents.
- Scientific preservation and management of plant species with the establishment of the recording and information systems.
- The management technology in plant cultivation and conservation.
- Integration of public education and tourism.
In addition, the living plant collections have become an important supporting platform for scientific research. Only in 2005, XTBG scientists have published several articles in such internationally peer-reviewed journals as Annals of Botany, American Journal of Botany, and Biochemical Genetics, etc.
XTBG has devoted itself to the conservation of tropical rare and endangered plants of China and nearby countries since 1959, but the number of collected plant species was only about 4,000 species in the garden, due to various reasons, in 1999. With the deterioration of the ecology, environment and the disappearance of biological diversity, the Chinese Academy of Science and Yunnan Provincial government jointly launched a project named Tropical Plant Resource Conservation and Sustainable use in 2000 to 2004.
The priorities for plant conservation are: rare and endangered plants, endemic plant species, flagship and keystone species, plant species with high scientific value and potential economic value as wild and relatives of cultivated crops, fruits, and medicinal plants. Now, about 10,000 species of plant collected from tropics of China and nearby countries such as Laos, Myanmar, Northern Thailand are preserved in 35 living collections e.g. palms, medicinal plants, bamboos, tropical fruit collection, wild orchid garden, wild Ginger garden, Cycads garden, a seed bank, and a tropical rainforest in the garden. Of these, more than 4,000 species are economic plants, 791 species are rare and endangered plants listed on the National Red Lists of China.
Some living collections have a significant role for conservation and research, for example, over 400 palm species have been collected and cultivated in the palm collection, 24 genera and 106 species of aroid have been collected since 2001, which comprise 54% of the total species in China and 77% of those in Xishuangbanna, which is the largest collection of wild aroids in China. The first Dracaena collection in China was set up, and 60 species and varieties grown in 1.06 ha have been preserved. Also 86 wild ginger species with 17 genera including some rare and endangered species as Etlingera yunnanensis are preserved in the ginger garden.
It is one of the few botanical gardens in the world to have over 10,000 plant species cultivated outdoors.
Plant Germplasm Bank Contributes
The Tropical Plant Germplasm Bank of XTBG (formerly: Rare, Endangered and Endemic Plant Germplasm Bank, REEP), established in 1997, is one of the major germplasm banks in China for the research, collection and conservation of important biological resources.
The TPGB, with storage area of 144 m2 and capacity of 150,000 items, offers perfect conditions for the conservation of wild plant germplasm. It is built according to international counterpart standards, with four main storage rooms at -18oC, 4oC and 15oC respectively for seed storage, a cryobiology facility and a tissue culture repository. It is also equipped with a relatively complete testing system for water content and the viability of seeds.
The seed biology laboratory, with an area of 300 m2, provides the main research methods and facilities for the institution's experiments in plant physiology, cellular and molecular biology.
Based on the techniques of traditional physiology combined with modern molecular biology, especially proteomics methods, the mechanisms of seed desiccation tolerance can be deeply explored. Those in-depth molecular explorations are providing scientific guidelines for conservation, exploration and utilization of plant germplasm.