News story | Published: 2008-05-20
Svalbard Global Seed Vault: During their last visit to the Seed Vault staff from the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen) moved the Nordic countries’ safety seed collection from a mine to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault: From safety in permafrost to optimal conditions
Svalbard Global Seed Vault: During their last visit to the Seed Vault, staff from the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre (NordGen) moved the Nordic countries’ safety seed collection from a mine to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Seeds from the Nordic Countries
Since 1984 NordGen has stored duplicates of the Nordic countries’ seed collection (former Nordic Genebank) in an abandoned coalmine just outside Longyearbyen. The seeds were originally stored in sealed glass vials placed in wooden boxes, stacked inside a metal container. The permafrost ensured good storage conditions at approximately -4°C. This safety storage proved the suitability of Svalbard with regard to many practical aspects of seed storage and was an important source of inspiration behind the construction of the new Svalbard Global Seed Vault. The safety base collection of NordGen is now inventoried and repackaged in storage boxes before they are included into the new Seed Vault.
The seeds in the Vault
The temperature conditions in the new Seed Vault fulfill the international standard for long-term conservation with -18°C. Seed samples prepared and packaged for storage in the Seed vault must be dried to low moisture content (~5%) and packaged in sealed, airtight aluminum foil pouches. The pouches are stacked in standard sized deposit boxes and accompanied with an electronic inventory with a set of descriptors of each individual sample. When the seed boxes arrive at Svalbard, NordGen staff receives and registers each box in the storage system and updates the database and its public interface at www.nordgen.org/sgsv accordingly.
Storage of the Nordic countries’ safety seed collection in a mine close to Longyearbyen. Photo: Stein Arne Nistad, Gazette