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Cryopreservation: Freezing Plant Tissues

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Cryopreservation—storing seeds in ultra-cold liquid nitrogen—is one method for maintaining plant genetic stocks in seed banks. Can seeds withstand a really deep freeze and still germinate?


Areas of Science
Time Required
Long (2-4 weeks)
Material Availability
Requires a sponsor to provide access to liquid nitrogen
Low ($20 - $50)
Must have adult supervision when working with liquid nitrogen.
April N. Duchanin


Investigate how freezing seeds for different amounts of time affects their germination rate.


Scientists have been using cryopreservation to build a "living" archive of seed genes. Some of these frozen seeds are kept in storage in the event of natural disasters that may wipe out an important crop. The question remains about seed viability and how long seeds can remain in a frozen state and still germinate to produce a healthy plant. In this science fair project, you will investigate how freezing seeds affects their ability to germinate.

Terms and Concepts

You should understand the difference between these two areas of study: cryopreservation and cryobiology.
You will need to understand seed structure and germination to understand what impact cryopreservation will have on the seed.
You should also understand exactly what happens to plant tissues when seeds are frozen. What is the process for freezing plant tissue for preservation? What are some of the disadvantages/risks of this process?


What is cryobiology and cryopreservation: Visit this website to see time-lapse plant videos showing germination and other plant activities:
  • Hangarter, R. (n.d.). Corn Germination. Plants-In-Motion. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
A book offering in depth coverage of research in cryopreservation in plants, including developments in methods for specific species of plants:
  • Towill, L.E. 2002. Cryopreservation Of Plant Germplasm: Introduction And Some Observations. Pp 3-21. In L.E. Towill And Y.P.S. Bajaj (EDS.)CRYOPRESERVATION Of Plant Germplasm Ii. Biotechnology In Agricultural And Forestry Series Vol 50. Springer, London.

Materials and Equipment

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Experimental Procedure

  1. Suspend the seeds in liquid nitrogen. You should test at least four different time durations in the liquid nitrogen. You should also test at least five of each of the seed types in each of your experiments. Some time duration suggestions:
    • Experiment 1: 1 day
    • Experiment 2: 2 days
    • Experiment 3: 3 days
    • Experiment 4: 4 days
  2. After the appropriate length of time, remove the seeds from the liquid nitrogen.
  3. Prepare the petri dishes for germination. Cut the cotton slightly smaller than the diameter of the petri dish. Saturate the cotton in the petri dish with water and allow the dish to drain for 5 minutes as excess water will literally drown the seeds.
  4. Place the seeds in the petri dish and place them in the oven at about 70°–80° F.
  5. Observe and record the rate of germination for each of the seeds every 24 hours until they are ready for planting.
  6. Which time duration in the liquid nitrogen led to the best germination results?
icon scientific method

Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.


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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Science Buddies Staff. "Cryopreservation: Freezing Plant Tissues." Science Buddies, 23 June 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/PlantBio_p004/plant-biology/cryopreservation-freezing-plant-tissues. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, June 23). Cryopreservation: Freezing Plant Tissues. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/PlantBio_p004/plant-biology/cryopreservation-freezing-plant-tissues

Last edit date: 2020-06-23
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