Native seeds from Australia have for the first time been added to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault deep underground in a remote part of Norway.
Tim Fischer, a former deputy prime minister and farmer, delivered the 10,000 Australia samples, including grain seeds from his own farm.
The doomsday vault 1,300 km north of the Arctic Circle was opened in 2008 and has hundreds thousands of seeds from around the world but until now there were few from Australia.
The seeds came from The Australian Grains Genebank, an amalgamation of the Australian Winter Cereals Collection, the Tropical Grains Germplasm Centre and the Temperate Field Crops Centre.
Dr Sally Norton, the Leader of the Australian Grains Genebank, said Australian indigenous wild seed samples, relatives of sorghum, rice and beans, have been deposited for the first time.
Other seeds included canola, oats, lupins and both temperate and tropical pastures.
“As Australia is a net importer of crop species, this represents the first deposit of truly Australian indigenous seed material, and is a valuable resource for global food production,” she said.
The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) also sent its first consignment of seeds, the first of 45,000 heading for the Arctic vault.
Among the seeds are key pasture legumes.
Steve Hughes, the curator of the Pastures Genebank located at SARDI’s Plant Research Centre, says: “Genetic diversity offers plant breeders the tools to develop better pastures which are more productive, resist pests and diseases, can survive through drought, saline soils, reduce our carbon footprint, adapt to a changing climate or whatever other challenges the future may bring.”
The Global Crop Diversity Trust, of which Mr Fischer is the vice-chairman of the board, is all about ensuring continuing crop diversity across the world.
The vault is built to withstand a nuclear explosion.
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