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Seed Botany Laboratory


The objectives of the Seed Laboratory are to:

  1. Provide identification and quality assessments of agricultural, vegetable, flower, native, and weed seed
  2. Substantiate label information on seed lots in the marketplace
  3. Prevent introduction and dissemination of noxious weed pests via contaminated seed lots moving into California
  4. Provide required seed quality and phytosanitary testing for seed export
  5. Serve as a repository for seed and fruit specimens and associated literature used for morphological identification
  6. Serve as a resource of scientific expertise in seed identification, seed physiology, and seed quality assessment for the Department and the seed industry

The Seed Laboratory identifies and evaluates seed samples and other plant propagules submitted by Department representatives (primarily through the Pest Exclusion Branch), seed producers and distributors, commercial and private laboratories, other state and federal agencies, academic institutions, and private citizens. The laboratory is considered an impartial authority and the information provided is often utilized in resolving contract disputes among seed trade parties.

The Seed Laboratory consists of two sections (Seed Taxonomy and Seed Physiology) and the majority of the samples received require processing through both sections of the laboratory for comprehensive analysis. In the Seed Taxonomy Laboratory, scientists identify seed, fruit and other plant propagules; examine quarantine and border station samples for noxious weed pest propagules; evaluate the quality of seed lots for labeling purposes; examine seed lots in the marketplace for purity label integrity; and inspect feed mill samples for weed seed contaminants. The Seed Physiology Laboratory scientists perform germination and viability evaluations of seed lots for labeling purposes; examine commercial seed lots for germination label integrity; determine viability of weed seed contaminants for feed mill approval (certification?); and perform biochemical and seed vigor assessment procedures to detect structural damage of the seed that may result in seedling abnormalities, indicating the potential for crop failure in the field.

Seed Laboratory scientists conduct research, either individually or in cooperation with scientists from other laboratories, to improve methods for laboratory testing of seed. Many of the methods used throughout North America today are the result of such work.

In addition to required academic degrees, scientists in the Seed Laboratory have obtained professional certifications in the field of seed technology from the following organizations: Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA) , the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST) and the International Society of Seed Technologists (ISST).

Diagnostics Responsibilities Summary:

Scientist Diagnostic Responsibilities
Dr. Riad Baalbaki Seed germination and viability testing; vigor evaluation; seed moisture determination; biochemical seed analysis; statistical analysis
Dr. Robert Price Identify native and foreign plant propagules on a worldwide basis