The Doomsday Vault past the Arctic Circle is more than just a storage room for seeds. This gene bank in Svalbard fosters potential for the changes that may just be necessary at some point in the future. With the diversity of seeds it holds, the Doomsday Vault is a storage that holds the key to a new world.
The location of the bank is significant. Although there are gene banks in many countries, the Svalbard location offers a cold area where there will be no interference with the precious cargo inside. There is a gene bank in Syria, however, surprisingly, rebel forces have allowed it to remain. Threats to the rare seeds still remain in many countries, and there is difficulty in funding the banks. The Doomsday Vault is well-protected so far, and its cold atmosphere provides for good preservation.
The priceless seeds that are stored in gene banks arose from “farmer-assisted evolution” which means that their potential to survive global hardships is nearly certain. There will be a tedious process of growing and experimenting with the rare breeds should they ever be necessary to bring out. Only a fraction of the seeds in these gene banks are actually of a unique genetic makeup, the rest of the seeds in the banks are duplicates. Duplicates are also vital though, seeds need to be sent around internationally and be available for actual experimentation and distribution. Recently, the largest collection of rice germplasm from Africa was shipped to the Svalbard gene bank. It is important to understand that the point of these gene banks is not just to hold rare breeds of seeds but to preserve current ones so that they are not lost forever. Nordic tree seeds are also being preserved in the Doomsday Vault. The vault is used for more than storage, it is a base where genetic changes can be monitored.
What is the point of preserving all kinds of seeds? The more variety of seeds available, the more likely it is that there will be plants and crops that can survive altered conditions. That is why biodiversity is so important. It is truly vital to maintaining a diverse range of organisms, not just because these varieties offer more potential for food that can help people survive, but because they also provide potential aids. For example, different varieties of plants offer different forms of medicine that humans and other animals need to heal and survive. Furthermore, it has to be stressed that biodiversity offers perpetuity in the animal food change. Another example that should be noted is that of plankton. There are several species of plankton, which is good news because that means that it is likely that there is plankton that can survive in unique conditions. Plankton is priceless organisms because they are the root of the marine food chain. If plankton were not so diverse, then the marine food chain would be put at risk and would not be able to survive in several areas of water.
Consider a scenario that involves a plant going extinct on one continent, being grown on a different continent with the help of the seed bank. That plant could diversify, possibly within only a few generations, and produce more varieties of plants. The diversification of all these plants can go on and on until the plants that humans are familiar with today begin to look different. That is just one example of how the Doomsday Vault can preserve biodiversity and life on Earth.
Even though several animals that lived on Earth are now extinct, life itself still survives thanks to biodiversity. For modern humans, dinosaurs are creatures of a different world. In the future, the life that remains around humans could look completely different from what it is today, with newer species surrounding the atmosphere. Humans will have to adapt to changing conditions, and the world will have to adapt to human interference. That is if humans do survive, with their seed vault backup plans. Therefore, the Doomsday Vault past the Arctic Vault can change Earth into a new world.
Gene banks, like the Doomsday Vault, are built to hold rare seeds, and surviving seeds that need to be preserved. Should a plant go extinct somewhere, the vault could be holding a handful of backup seeds to maintain the livelihood of that plant. The fresh varieties of seeds held in these banks hold the potential to show humans an Earth with different plants, and, therefore, even different animals. The Doomsday Vault past the Arctic Circle is the bank of a new world.
By Tania Dawood
ABC- Inside the ‘Doomsday’ Vault PAst the Arctic Circle
Memphis Business Blog- Memphis as Usual: Week of June 8, 2015
Climate Central- Protecting Ag’s Future: Are Seed Banks in Trouble?
Featured Photo Courtesy of Tony Foster’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License