Images from Seeds: Time Capsules of Life
"About an hour south of London, in Sussex, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, are preparing seeds for storage. Researchers at 48 partner institutions in 16 countries collect seeds and send them to Kew, where the specimens are cleaned, dried for about a month and then stored for perpetuity in an underground vault, kept at a chilly -20 degrees Celsius. The Millennium Seed Bank, as it is called, was founded in 2000 as an effort to stock away viable seeds, now, should we need them to restore plant populations in the future. Nearly 100,000, or about one quarter, of the world's plant species, are currently threatened. 'We can't afford to let these plants, and the potential they hold, die out,' says Kew, on its Web site.
The Millennium Seed Bank is a global seed garden of epic proportions. By 2010, the project had amassed about 10 percent of the world's 400,000 plant species, and the trajectory is to reach 25 percent by 2020.
Wouldn't you like to see it? The vault itself, of course, is hidden from the public eye. But, MSB's seed morphologist Wolfgang Stuppy and visual artist Rob Kesseler have come up with a clever workaround."
Read more at Smithsonian.com