The Botanical Conservation Program maintains an active seed bank and tissue culture lab, which serves as a complementary ex situ repository to the living collections. Ex situ conservation means, "off-site conservation" and is the process of protecting an endangered species, variety or breed, of plant or animal outside its natural habitat. Both the seed bank and tissue culture lab maintain living propagules in a controlled environment for storage and propagation.
The seed bank roughly stores 250 accessions of seed at a temperature of 5°C. The collection represents both field collected seed from recent floristic surveys of temperate and arid regions of the United States, as well as seed produced by species that are rare or uncommon in cultivation from either self-pollination or controlled pollination.
The pollen bank stores over 30 accessions of pollen from globally at-risk plant groups at a temperature of -70°C. Species from the Cactaceae, Cycadaceae, Orchidaceae, and Zamiaceae make up the majority of the collection.
Plant Tissue Culture and Cryopreservation Lab
The tissue culture program serves the primary purposes of having a propagation tool for species that are difficult or slow to propagate by other means, and maintaining a research program for the development of protocols for groups that are lacking in this regard. An additional cryopreservation program is focused on providing protocols for preserving plant germplasm in liquid nitrogen (-196°C).
The tissue culture program also maintains tissue culture repositories for essential collections of aloes, agaves, and magnolias, which allows for the short-term (less than one year) and middle-term ex situ conservation of these plants and helps to obtain disease-free plants. The development of cryopreservation protocols is providing cost-efficient methods for the long-term conservation (100 + years) of plant species of interest.
Current research is focused on developing more efficient protocols for different types of plants, such as Aloe, Agave, Berberis, cycads, Magnolia, Persea (avocado), and Quercus (oaks).