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University of Sussex launches world's first degree programme in 'seed banking'

May 2003 -- Biologists are being offered the chance to help save the planet by enrolling in an innovative new postgraduate degree at the University of Sussex this autumn.

Together with the world-renowned Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the University is to offer the world's first degree programme in 'seed banking', which includes strategies for safeguarding the earth's most endangered plants.

Wakehurst Place is the Royal Botanic Gardens' "country garden in West Sussex" and home of the Millennium Seed Bank. The largest seed bank in the world, it is part of an international collaborative plant-conservation initiative that aims to safeguard 24,000 plant species against extinction. The Millennium Seed Bank has already secured the future of virtually all the UK's native flowering plants.

The new one-year MSc in Plant Conservation (Seed Banking) will involve teaching by biologists from both the University of Sussex and the Seed Conservation Department at Wakehurst Place.

In addition to the masters degree, a six-month Postgraduate Diploma is also on offer. Both programmes are targeted at students of ecology, plant physiology or biochemistry.

The University has already received applications from graduates in several parts of Africa, as well as Australia, Bangladesh, China, Eastern Europe and North America.

Dr Peter Scott, from the University's biology department, says: "We are offering postgraduate training in restoration ecology, seed physiology, plant genetics, molecular biology and plant tissue culture.

"These come together to form a comprehensive study of strategies for conserving both plant habitat and genetic resources and analysing plant diversity."

Source : University of Sussex.

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