You are here

New Seed Bank Intern Program

Championing the conservation of Australian plants and promoting the role of seed banking in conserving Australian plant diversity is a key role for the Australian National Botanic Gardens Seed Bank.  Through the new Seed Bank Internship Program, the Gardens aims to build the interest of young scientists in seed conservation biology.

“Seed Bank Interns at the Australian National Botanic Gardens are learning techniques for sustainable seed collecting and conservation seed banking procedures,” Seed Bank Manager, Tom North said.

“Each intern is responsible for a small research project. Fabio Corrêa Didoné is investigating appropriate long-term storage conditions by comparing seed germination of four Eucalypt species that have been banked under different conditions. Fabio’s research findings will save us valuable time and resources in managing our native seed collections.”


 Fábio Corrêa DidonéAn interview with Fábio Corrêa Didoné

Fábio Corrêa Didoné is one of the new seed bank Interns at the Australian National Botanic Gardens and he discusses why he joined the intern program and explains his future aspirations.

Q) Fábio, what motivated you to apply for the Australian National Botanic Gardens Seed Intern Program?

I am a Brazilian exchange student at the Australian National University and I live on campus. Since I arrived in Canberra, I have enjoyed visiting the Australian National Botanic Gardens, especially because it’s so close to the university. I learnt about the intern program during one of my visits to the Gardens. I spoke with Tom North, the Seed Bank Manager, about the intern program and he explained how the seed bank works. This inspired me to apply for the intern program. Also working in the seed bank is something that I really wanted to do because of its importance for plant conservation. I am learning about the conservation projects and the importance of the seed bank.  I also really like the team at the seed bank, they are kind and patient.

Q) What have you been doing during your internship?
I have been performing an experiment to compare seed storage conditions. I selected four eucalypt species from collections that were banked under three different long term storage conditions.  I have analysed and compared the viability of these collections under the different conditions. I have also participated in several seed collection field trips and I’ve been learning about seed collection techniques and the work that Australian National Botanic Gardens’ staff and volunteers are doing to preserve endangered species in grassland ecosystems.

Q) What have you found most interesting about your seed work and intern program?

I have been very interested in the way that the seed bank works and I’m interested in the seed collection projects. Staff have collected seeds from endangered species and other key species in order to preserve Australia’s plant diversity through seed banking. I have also enjoyed the seed storage project that I have been working on. Through this project, I have learnt about the ideal conditions for seed conservation and the storage factors that help to prolong seed viability.

Q) Tell us about what you would like to do professionally when you finish your studies

I would like to work in seed conservation or to work in a plant nursery in Brazil. I have had this idea since I started my studies and I think that my experience during my internship at the Australian National Botanic Gardens Seed Bank has reinforced my ideas.


An interview with Benjamin Huttner-Koros

Ben is one of the new seed bank Interns and he discusses his work with the intern program

Benjamin Huttner-Koros

Q) Ben, what motivated you to apply for the Australian National Botanic Gardens Seed Intern Program?

  It seemed like an incredible opportunity to work in a biological science research facility on things I am    interested in. The description of the tasks involved in the project really matched my interests of plant biology, ecology and field botany. I was also interested to see how a real science research facility operated. The chance to work in the beautiful botanic gardens was also very inviting. It was really attractive to be able to work on seed biology and go on seed collecting field trips for the summer!

Q) What have you been doing during your internship?

I investigated the ecological drivers of seed germination for three species of plants from alpine Sphagnum bogs and fens. This involved researching the characteristics of Sphagnum bogs, their native plants, hydrology, soil, threats and reading germination studies of similar plants. I also researched the biology and previous germination results where it existed of my three study species (an important heath species, a daisy and an aquatic herb). We then designed and carried out an experiment that investigated the effect of differences in pH, water submersion and temperature on the germination of seeds from these three species. The experiment lasted about five weeks. We found that two of the species had an incredibly wide germination niche and one species germinated poorly. There were significant differences in seed germination between different germination conditions. Our results had implications for management and restoration efforts of Sphagnum bogs. I also participated in seed collection field trips which were really enjoyable.

Q) What have you found most interesting about your seed work and intern program?

Being able to undertake an experiment from design to analysis and presenting the results was very interesting and rewarding. I’ve really enjoyed learning the laboratory methods and techniques used in seed research and in field seed collection. One of the most interesting things has been learning about the plants found in bogs during field trips. It has also been interesting seeing the diversity in plant science research and tasks at the seed bank and at the botanic gardens generally. It has been really interesting meeting so many amazing people from the botanic gardens, as well as the A.C.T government and park rangers.

Q) Tell us about what you would like to do professionally when you finish your studies

Who knows! Working in the fields of ecology, any type of plant science or land management would be great. A job that involves field work in beautiful places would also be amazing! I would also be interested to pursue any sort of ecological plant research in the future, such as this seed germination research. I have really enjoyed my time at the seed bank of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and would be happy to pursue similar work.