102 / SEEDWORLD.COM DECEMBER 2018 seed morphology is. People can make decisions based on what they perceive using their raw senses, but these people are getting rarer all the time,” he says. Diederichsen obtained his PhD from the University of Göttingen in 1997 while working at the German national gen- ebank at Gatersleben. He has chaired the Global Oat Diversity Network that was established during a meeting of oat genetic resource experts organized by the Global Crop Diversity Trust in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2007. He currently resides in Canada and serves as curator for the Canadian national genebank for seed germplasm. “We got so smart as humans that we tend to rely on sophisticated tools, but there are a lot of important seed qualities that can be assessed using the human eye alone. We need to continue training for these observation skills, which are readily available without needing a lot of technology.” Global Importance Plant and seed morphology are mainly used in identifying over 200,000 flower- ing plants and their seeds around the world, notes ISMA secretary Ruojing Wang of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Wang is the head of the CFIA National Seed Herbarium in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. “Right now, up-to-date seed mor- phology knowledge and identification expertise are not readily accessible and scattered among individual taxonomists, specialists, analysts and seed testing laboratories,” she says. “Because of the diversity of plants, regional distribution, and globalized trade, there is no single country that can develop a reference database for seed identification to meet the testing needs. By forming ISMA, we hope to change that.” By “we”, she means a contingent of seed specialists from around the world including Canada, the United States and Europe, all working to advance the field of seed morphology, or seed identification. Seed identification is an area of exper- tise that determines the plant taxonomic identity of a seed sample such as family, genus and species. Seed identification is a highly specialized area of plant taxonomy. economically important plant species and wild plant species. “ISMA will provide a vehicle to help people connect and directly publish their knowledge on our website,” Wang says. That “vehicle” will be the “Seed Identification Guide” (SIG), a peer- reviewed web-based seed identification tool which is intended to become the seed morphologist’s online Bible. Ernest Allen, director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division and a member of the ISMA board, says ISMA will have a positive effect not just on the seed industry, but on other sectors like environmental protection and conserva- tion, food science and medicine. “There’s a need for people to identify Germany’s Wolfgang Stuppy is scientific curator for the Botanic Garden at Ruhr- University Bochum and chair of ISMA. Seed identification uses identification techniques similar to those that entomol- ogists use on insects. Seed identification provides important and critical information in seed certifica- tion and grading and is a routine test for the enforcement of seed regulations, plant protection regulations, phytosani- tary regulations and commodity labelling. ISMA’s goal is to promote research, resource development, knowledge shar- ing and collaboration among those who are interested in seed morphology and seed identification. The organization will be a scientific source of seed morphology knowledge and expertise, publishing interactive digital identification tools and establishing a seed identification database for weeds, ISMA vice-chair Axel Diederichsen says seed morphology expertise has declined in recently years due to the rise of genomics and other new technologies. Ruojing Wang, secretary for the International Seed Morphology Association, says ISMA will provide a vehicle to help people connect and directly publish their knowledge on our website. Ernest Allan is director of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Seed Regulatory and Testing Division and a member of the ISMA board.