Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 1413–1420 | Cite as

How bryophytes came out of the cold: successful cryopreservation of threatened species

  • J. K. RowntreeEmail author
  • M. M. Ramsay
Original Paper


The use of ex situ techniques for the conservation of threatened plants has been increasing over the past decades. Cryopreservation is often used for the long-term storage of plant germplasm where conventional methods (i.e. seedbanking) are inappropriate. Simple encapsulation–dehydration protocols were developed for the cryopreservation of bryophytes at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as part of an ex situ project for the conservation of UK threatened species. The applicability of these methods was tested on 22 species with a broad range of ecological requirements and found to be highly successful across the board. Regeneration rates from frozen material were >68% for all species tested and half had regeneration rates of 100%. The high regeneration rate and broad applicability of the protocols across a range of species was attributed to a combination of the inherent totipotency of bryophytes and the in-built recovery periods in the pre-treatment protocol. In conclusion, bryophytes are well suited to cryopreservation and such techniques would be applicable for the long-term storage of similar conservation collections across the globe.


Bryophyte Cryopreservation Encapsulation–dehydration Ex situ conservation Threatened species 



We thank Natural England (formally English Nature), Scottish Natural Heritage, Countryside Council for Wales for providing funding for the ex situ project, the lead partners for the UK Biodiversity Action Plans (Countryside Council for Wales, English Nature, Natural History Museum, Plantlife, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Scottish Natural Heritage) for permission to collect and work with these species. Thanks also to RF Preziosi for comments on an earlier draft of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Micropropagation UnitRichmondUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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