Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 160–175 | Cite as

Natural soil spore banks — can they be used to retrieve lost ferns?

  • A. F. Dyer


Some fern species form spore banks — reservoirs in the soil of viable spores which remain dormant while buried but germinate in light if brought to the surface. The recently discovered characteristics of these spore banks are described. Enough is now known to suggest that they might have a role in the conservation of endangered fern species as alternatives toex situ collections of sporophytes, gametophytes and spores, the relative merits of which are also considered. Mature sporophytes of several British species have now been raised from natural spore banks in soil samples; if this proves to be possible also for endangered species, some interesting options become available. The possibilities are discussed of augmenting surviving populations and increasing their genetic diversity, even perhaps of retrieving lost populations, by reintroduction of spore bank-derived plants or by stimulating regeneration from spore banksin situ. Botanic gardens are well placed to provide the further research, the regular monitoring of endangered populations, and the taxonomic and horticultural support required to realise these possiblities.


ferns soil banks spore banks conservation reintroduction 


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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. F. Dyer
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Cell and Molecular BiologyUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghScotland
  2. 2.Royal Botanic GardenEdinburghScotland

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