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UW seed varieties are “perfect” for Union South time capsule

Seeds are perfect things to put in a time capsule, because they’re time capsules in and of themselves.

So when the UW-Madison’s new Union South was looking for contributions for a time capsule recently, Karl Haro von Mogel knew just what to offer.

“Good time capsule contents are small, contain a lot of information and represent the time period when they are sealed up. Naturally, as a plant geneticist, I though that seeds would be perfect,” says Haro von Mogel, a Ph.D. Candidate in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at UW-Madison, in this post on the BioFortified blog.

“Since I know a bunch of plant breeders, I decided to ask if any would be willing to contribute some seeds that they have bred,” he adds.

Among the seeds going into the time capsule were three newly released varieties of beets, Badger Torch, Badger Flame and Badger Sunset (“They look like yellow fire when you cut them open,” Haro von Mogel says). Also included were a carrot variety with high levels of beta carotene and oats high in beta-glucan, the compound that makes oats particularly heart-healthy.

“In some ways, however, sealing seeds in a time capsule for 50 years represents something that should not happen. The genes in these seeds will be frozen in time, unable to change as the world does around them,” he says.

But since breeders will continue to breed and improve these varieties, the fact that these particular seeds will not evolve will make things interesting for plant scientists who might end up with them once the time capsule is opened, he adds. He’s including some pedigree information with each variety to put things in context for plant breeders of the future.

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