A gene bank for endangered plant species is to be set up in Finland.
Seeds are to be kept in freezers at the Kumpula Botanic Gardens in Helsinki.
The aim is to get the seeds of 120 different plant species by 2020, says Marko Hyvärinen, head of the botanical unit of the Finnish Museum of Natural History run by the University of Helsinki.
Finland is committed to an international treaty aimed at preserving the genes of 75 per cent of endangered plant species in a gene bank.
At present, nearly 60 plant species have been preserved, either as seeds or as live plants.
“Preservation of the seeds guarantees that genetic diversity will be kept”, Hyvärinen says.
If necessary, seeds of the plants can be produced in greenhouses, and planted in their natural habitats, thereby helping preserve the species in nature.
About 20 protected plant species do not produce viable seeds. They are preserved in the form of tissue cultures at the University of Oulu.