Monday, 23 August 2010

The Pavlovsk Experimental Station

The AWL, August 11, 2010
by Mary Phillips-Sandy posted @2:20 PM

Earlier today, to absolutely no one's surprise, a Russian court decided to let a state-backed residential development fund proceed with its plan to build houses on a field in Pavlovsk, outside St. Petersburg. The reason this mundane matter even reached a court is that the field is presently inhabited by thousands of rare fruits and berries, better known as the historic gene bank of the Pavlovsk Experimental Station.

What does this mean for those of us who will want jam on our toast even after the apocalypse comes? And what does it mean for Russia, which is having its own apocalypse problem right now?

The Pavlovsk station is operated by the Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, a research center founded by botanist Nikolai Vavilov in 1926. (Before the current controversy, one key fact about the Institute was that several Russian scientists starved to death at its headquarters when Leningrad was under siege, because they refused to eat their collections.) The station in Pavlovsk includes thousands of samples of berries, apples, cherries and other fruits, most of which do not exist anywhere else, but unlike this James Bond-ish vault in the mountains of Norway, the Pavlovsk station is not a seed bank. Some uncooperative plants can't be replicated exactly from frozen seeds, so keeping them and their fruits alive, in the dirt where they are, is the only way to preserve their genetic information.

For full article click here.

Also see article in the LA Times.