SCIENCE AT GHENT UNIVERSITY BOTANICAL GARDEN

The Ghent University Botanical Garden provides a home for many plant collections that are used in ongoing research projects at the Research Group Spermatophytes, different other research groups and departments of the Ghent University and collaborating (inter)national institutions.

Focus plant groups

The Ghent University Botanical Garden houses scientifically important reference collections of e.g. the flowering plant families Araceae, Cyperaceae, Hydrangeaceae, Orchidaceae, the genera Begonia, Ephedra, Pelargonium, Peperomia, Rhipsalis, Sansevieria, and carnivorous plants and ferns.

Research Group Spermatophytes staff members often collect additional accessions for the Ghent University Botanical Garden during field work in the context of their research projects in order to maintain and extend the scientific reference collections.

Since many accessions are of known wild origin, these collections are also valuable for ex situ plant biodiversity conservation.
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Research applications

The scientifically curated collections of the Ghent University Botanical Garden provide plant material for DNA analysis, anatomy, morphology, developmental studies, etc.

Especially in case of anatomical and developmental studies, living plants are key to carry out the research. For these types of studies, dried herbarium material is often not usable. Also, for some plant groups that have a lot of secondary metabolites in their leaves (e.g. Hydrangea) or for some succulent plants (e.g. Peperomia), living accessions are better suited for DNA extraction than dried leaf material.
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Plant Biodiversity Conservation Research & Partnerships

The Ghent University Botanical Garden is a long standing member of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and is involved in several collaborative projects, including 'A future for cacti?' and 'Red Listing Hydrangeas'.

Through the Plant Biodiversity Conservation projects of the Research Group Spermatophytes and the living ex situ collections of the Ghent University Botanical Garden, we aim to support in situ and ex situ conservation of threatened plant species around the world.
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Using the Ghent University Botanical Garden collections

The well-curated living collections of the Ghent University Botanical Garden can provide scientists with a wealth of plant material for all manner of scientific studies involving plants.

Since 2000, staff and students of the Research Group Spermatophytes have published 7 PhD theses, over 10 MSc theses, and well over 50 A1 papers based on research of living plants from the Ghent University Botanical Garden.

Researchers from other Ghent University departments and research groups, and other universities in Belgium and around the world also use the collections frequently. A few examples are listed below:
  • The Ghent University Botanical Gardens holds a large collection of ferns and allies, which are employed by the Ghent University Research Group Pteridology in their anatomy, cytology and cell wall research.
  • The Cyperaceae collection yields useful plant material for inflorescence and floral developmental studies at the KULEUVEN (Dr. Alex Vrijdaghs).
  • The Peperomia and basal angiosperm collection is being used extensively in research collaborations between the Research Group Spermatophytes, INECOL, Mexico (Dr. Marie-Stéphanie Samain) and the TU Dresden (Dr. Stefan Wanke).

The inventory of the Ghent University Botanical Garden arboretum is available online through the PLANTCOL project. Also, the collection information is uploaded to BGCI's PlantSearch database.

For more information about the available collections or to request plant material for research purposes, please contact: Dr. Isabel Larridon (Research Group Spermatophytes) or Chantal Dugardin (curator of the Ghent University Botanical Garden).
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