100 / SEEDWORLD.COM DECEMBER 2018 FOR YEARS, there has been a shrinking level of expertise in the area of seed morphology. According to Germany’s Wolfgang Stuppy, scientific curator for the Botanic Garden at Ruhr- University Bochum, since the mid-20th century, seed morphology has not been a discipline practised by many botanists who traditionally rely on floral characters for plant identification. In his opinion, the best work on the subject was produced by a few scientists in the final few decades of the 1990s. These researchers then reached retire- ment age and their seed morphological work ceased. Thankfully, a group of global seed industry stakeholders are coming to the rescue by forming the International Seed Morphology Association (ISMA) — with Stuppy at the helm as chairman. “In my work, sometimes the only material available for plant identification is seeds or fruits, and ISMA will now provide for the first time a central hub for seed morphology. Besides the seed industry, ISMA will also be an invaluable resource for scientists in the fields of ecology, eth- nobotany, archaeology and agriculture,” Stuppy says. “Having been a seed morphologist at Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank in 2003, I very quickly became aware of the fact that I appear to be the only scientist entirely dedicated to subject of seed morphology.” Of course, there are other scientists who publish on the subject occasionally A new international association aims to strengthen a crucial area of expertise. Marc Zienkiewicz mzienkiewicz@issuesink.com Seed Morphology Gets a Boost or who use seed morphology as tool for plant identification such as archaeologists and ecologists, but true specialists on seed morphology hardly seem to exist, he adds. “The decline is certainly accelerated and exacerbated by the fact that nowa- days, only high-tech research, especially molecular, is considered [worthy of] fund- ing and worthwhile to be published in high-impact journals.” Germany’s Axel Diederichsen serves as vice-chair of ISMA. He says the area of seed morphology has needed a shot in the arm for some time — and forming ISMA will serve to strengthen an area of expertise that is crucial to the global seed industry for a number of reasons. “There’s a lot you can see with the human eye alone, which is basically what Seed morphology is used in identifying over 200,000 flowering plants and their seeds around the world.