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    INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE: From left, Gibson Sosanika, Dr Sally Norton and Jimmy Frans Wanma in Horsham.

Sharing knowledge to save more seed

Scientists have shared the inner workings of the Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham with two international scholars as a part of a project to collect and conserve forest species in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Researchers Jimmy Frans Wanma and Gibson Sosanika visited the genebank for training in developing ex-situ genebanks for seed conservation.

They made the trip with support from the Crawford Fund and the Australian Grains Genebank.

Mr Wanma, a researcher and lecturer at the University of Papua, Indonesia and Mr Sosanika, a researcher at Papua New Guinea University of Technology, took part in an eight-day training course.

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They worked with Australian Grains Genebank leader Dr Sally Norton, Agriculture Victoria molecular plant-breeding research scientist Katherine Whitehouse and collection technical officer Kevin Murray.

Dr Norton said the training was aimed at helping the international researchers to develop improved programs to conserve the forest species they work with in their home countries for resource management and food security.

“The AGG has implemented best practice into its activities and is well positioned to provide this training to the international participants,” she said.

While in Horsham, Mr Wanma and Mr Sosanika received hands-on experience in setting up seed-viability tests, collecting data, assessing data integrity and the management of data in specialised databases.

They also studied the principles of post-harvest seed threshing and cleaning and the preparation of seeds for long-term storage. Mr Sosanika said the training had provided him with a greater understanding of genebank practices based on international genebank standards.

“We hope to share our new skills and knowledge with colleagues when we get home, resulting in improved conservation of forestry species in both Papua, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea,” he said.

Dr Norton said the training had resulted in strengthened connections.

“This has the potential to improve the exchange of germplasm and data and develop opportunities for collaborative research to more effectively use and conserve germplasm,” she said.

In the two weeks before their visit to the genebank, Mr Wanma and Mr Sosanika visited Kakadu in the Northern Territory for training in ‘crop wild relative seed collecting’.

The entire May 30, 2018 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!