Liquid nitrogen (LN) storage is recommended for conserving plants with seeds for which standard seed banking is not feasible, but there are few empirical reports confirming its long-term effectiveness. In this study we evaluated in vitro viability and ex vitro growth of embryo axes of a species that is short-lived in seed bank conditions (Juglans nigra) and two recalcitrant seeded species (Aesculus hippocastanum and A. glabra) that were stored 11–23 years in LN. Viability of J. nigra axes did not decrease significantly after 23 years and produced normal-appearing plantlets. Similarly, viability of A. hippocastanum axes did not decrease after 23 years. However, A. glabra axes showed a significant decline in viability after 23 years, from 80% when freshly harvested to 33%. These results demonstrate that LN storage can preserve embryo axes of J. nigra and Aesculus sp. for over two decades, providing a workable conservation tool for these and similar species.
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