Australia’s native plants are battling a pandemic of their own – an exotic disease known as myrtle rust. The disease is known to affect hundreds of species in Australia’s iconic Myrtle family and has already driven several species to the brink of extinction. In this talk, Dr Karen Sommerville, Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science introduces us to seed banking, one tool we can use to protect our precious plants, and our future – provided we act quickly. Dr Karen Sommerville is a Research Scientist at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science. Her work is based at the Australian PlantBank, an award-winning plant conservation and research facility situated within the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, where seeds of over 5,300 Australian plant species are stored to provide an insurance policy against their extinction in the wild.
Originally trained as a horticulturist, Karen has focussed on plant conservation research since 2003, helping to protect the future of native plant species and the lives that depend on them.
Her research experience ranges from the reproductive biology and genetics of saltmarsh plants to the symbiotic culture of orchids and the germination and conservation of rainforest seeds. She currently leads the Rainforest Seed Conservation Project at the Australian PlantBank, using cutting-edge technology to determine which Australian rainforest seeds are suitable for long-term conservation in a seed bank and developing alternative methods of conservation, such as cryopreservation, for those that are not.