Lydia Guja — Seed Ecology IV, Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China
In June 2013, with financial support from the Plant Nutrition Trust, I travelled to Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China to attend the Seed Ecology IV conference. The theme of the conference was ‘Seeds and the Future’ and the program addressed evolutionary seed ecology, seed dispersal, soil seed banks, seed germination and dormancy, seed longevity and storage, and biodiversity conservation and restoration. The conference program was intense, with 60 oral presentations over 3 days and no parallel sessions. A diverse range of engaging and current seed research was presented.
I gave an oral presentation about my PhD research entitled ‘Full spectrum X-ray mapping reveals differential localisation of salt in germinating seeds of differing salt tolerance’. This research brought together seed scientists and materials scientists from across Australia (with assistance from the R. N Robertson Travelling Fellowship) and investigated how germinating seeds either avoid or tolerate stress from mineral salts in saline environments. This research represents the first investigation of ionic uptake and salt movement in plant seeds using a multi-detector X-ray mapping SEM developed by my collaborators. We demonstrated that damaging ions were compartmentalised in the endosperm of salt-tolerant seeds, but absorbed by the embryo of salt-sensitive seeds. The manuscript describing this research will shortly be available in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. I enjoyed being able to present this research to the Seed Ecology audience and it was well received and generated some engaging discussion and future opportunities for collaboration.
I also presented a poster ‘Ecological drivers of seed germination in endangered alpine bog and fen communities in Australia.’ This new research is being undertaken in my role as the Seed Conservation Biologist at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) and the Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research (CANBR). This research focuses on conservation and seed ecology of species that define a nationally listed endangered ecological community, ‘Alpine Sphagnum bogs and associated fens,’ recognised under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999. In particular, I am interested in seed germination thresholds in acidic, waterlogged, and cool conditions and how this drives recruitment patterns in such a fragile environment. By presenting the poster I was fortunate to discuss preliminary results and future directions with other researchers working internationally in alpine environments.
This was my first time travelling to China and I was also fortunate to join the post conference field trip to Inner Mongolia to explore the natural beauty and history of this region. Without the assistance of the Plant Nutrition Trust I would not have been able to attend this conference. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to present my work and keep up to date with the latest seed research, professional subject matter, and communicate with leading seed researchers. The knowledge and networks gained are beneficial both for the completion of my thesis and in my new position as Seed Conservation Biologist at ANBG and CANBR.
Seed Ecology IV Conference in China, June 2013.
Top left: Lydia Guja presenting her X-ray mapping paper.
Below: presenting at the poster session.
Spectacular scenery seen during the post conference field trip to Inner Mongolia, China.
Below: An ovoo serves as both a religious site and landmark in the flat open grasslands.
Bottom : Mongolian gers are still used in the grasslands and are scattered between the large modern Chinese cities.