The Global Genome Initiative (GGI) was founded with the goal of collecting and preserving genome-quality tissue samples from at least one species belonging to each family and 50% of the genera of species on Earth. For the diverse plant branch of the tree of life, GGI–Gardens was founded to collect and preserve these specimens from arboreta, botanic gardens, and greenhouses.
In January 2015 the GGI-Gardens established a collaboration to sample vascular plants from the mid-Atlantic region of the United States that included five partner gardens (Smithsonian Gardens and Department of Botany Greenhouse, US Botanic Garden, US National Arboretum and the USDA Germplasm Farm).
During a 10-week summer collection effort two interns and a Smithsonian staff member were able to collect 158 families, 450 genera and 754 species. Sampling followed plant phenology and standard herbarium practice and was practiced throughout the summer flowering season with priority given to flowering or fruiting individuals. Collections were vouchered (traditional herbarium specimens) and photographed and leaf material was preserved in both liquid nitrogen and silica gel.
Collecting is continuing in the greenhouses throughout winter 2015 and spring 2016. March-April 2016 will usher in a significant increase in the numbers collected and their diversity while spring plants come into bloom.
Even given its initial “pilot” scale, GGI-Gardens is a cost effective and high impact project. Furthermore, it can easily be scaled to international adoption by partner gardens. The GGI–Gardens program would not exist without it’s partners, who play a vital role in collections, strategic sampling goals, and expanding the global network of arboreta, gardens, and greenhouses. Living collections at botanic gardens around the world contain an incredible amount of plant diversity – let’s preserve it together!
2017 Summer GGI-Gardens Internship Opportunity