26 September 2023

DBCA project grows hope for endangered blooms

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Scientists from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) have successfully germinated the endangered Bussell’s Spider Orchid (Caladenia busselliana).

In a statement DBCA said the germination success, at the Kings Park and Botanic Garden, came as a result of The Rare Bloom Project, a partnership between World Wildlife Fund Australia and Botanica by Air Wick, in collaboration with the Australian Seed Bank.

“The Project aims to improve conservation outcomes for 120 native Australian plant species,” the Department said.

It said Bussell’s Spider Orchid existed in a few small populations in the Busselton region of Western Australia.

Research Scientist at Kings Park, Belinda Davis said the recently germinated orchid seeds were originally collected in 1999 and had been conserved in cryogenic storage at Kings Park, along with the symbiotic fungi which helped the orchid seeds to germinate and grow.

“Germinating orchids is a delicate process,” Dr Davis said.

“We first need to cultivate the orchid’s partnering fungi on agar jelly and then the seeds can be fed by the fungi to get the nutrients they need,” she said.

“By germinating this older collection of seeds, we now have valuable information about how long this rare orchid and its partnering fungi can survive in storage.”

She said since the wild parent sub-population of those seeds no longer existed, the germinated plants represented a precious source of genetic diversity.

“Seed banks are vital to the conservation of species that find themselves on the brink of extinction,” Dr Davis said.

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