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Noted science broadcaster to launch Australian Plant DNA Bank

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Published
6 June 2002
The distinguished presenter of ABC Radio National's 'Science Show', Dr. Robyn Williams, will officially launch the Australian Plant DNA Bank Network Initiative at Southern Cross University's Lismore Campus on Wednesday, 12 June.

The Australian Plant DNA Bank, the first such facility in the nation's history, will eventually contain the DNA of all of Australia's 25,000 species of flora, stored at -20 and -80ยบ C and accessible for scientific research, conservation and commercial purposes.

Recently the project received a Commonwealth development grant of $54,366 through the Regional Assistance Program. An earlier grant of the same amount was awarded by the NSW Department of State and Regional Development, under the Developing Regional Resources program. Ultimately, the Bank will operate nationally and internationally, as a resource of plant DNA.

According to the Director of SCU's Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics, Professor Robert Henry, the Bank is seeking input from interested parties to deliver a spectrum of benefits in the environmental, historical and economic areas. The aim of the launch is to start the process of building a network of stakeholders and interested parties to ensure that the Plant DNA Bank continues to develop as a national resource.

"It will be an unprecedented and unmatched resource capturing the unique biodiversity held within Australia's flora," Professor Henry said. "It will greatly expand the sustainable use and conservation of our plant resources."

As well as enhancing scientific knowledge of our evolutionary past, and ensuring that the DNA of even the most threatened species would never vanish, the centralised Bank will eliminate the need for duplicated collections of DNA samples and the costly effort of rare plants being
collected numerous times.

Explaining that a complete DNA collection of Australia's flora heritage would account for approximately 10 per cent of the world's entire flora, he predicted the Bank would attract immense scientific interest from overseas collaborators, including companies, researchers and international agencies.

"Nationally, it will ensure that the conservation of Australian plant DNA is maintained in Australian hands," he said. "At the community level, the benefits will include the further improvement of plant, food and medicinal products that contribute to the welfare of our society," Professor Henry said.

For further information, contact: Ms Nicole Rice (Curator) on (02) 6620 3409, or Mr Robin Osborne, Media Liaison, Marketing & External Relations, (02) 6620 3039 Mobile: 0418 431 484, Email: [email protected]