Meise Botanic Garden (MeiseBG) has a long history that goes back to 1796. Today, it is an internationally recognized botanic garden in a domain of 92 hectares, as well as center of excellence for plant biodiversity research with a rich collection. MeiseBG houses the 15th largest herbarium in the world holding 4 million preserved specimens, a rich botanical library, a seed bank and a living plant collection with 18,000 different taxa from all around the world. Research focuses on plant, algal and fungal taxonomy, evolution, ecosystems, biodiversity conservation, and ethnobotany. MeiseBG is dedicated in sharing its knowledge with the scientific community and the broad public, through guided tours, exhibits, and publication of books and scientific journals. MeiseBG is an active member of several networks related to botanic gardens, libraries, biodiversity data standards and collections and is exchanging information and specimens with other scientific institutes worldwide.
The preserved collections (i.e. herbarium, wood samples, carpological, slides and molecular collections) are of following groups: vascular plants, fungi, lichens; diatoms, macro-algae and myxomycetes. They have a global geographical scope, with a focus on Central Africa (> 500,000 specimens), Belgium, South-West Europe and South-East Asia, with additionally important historic collections from Latin America, India, and Australia. A highlight are the private collections of famous 19th botanists such as Van Heurck (diatoms), Von Martius (Flora brasiliensis), von Reichenbach (Orchids) and Crépin (wild roses) as part of the historic core of the collections.
MeiseBG also manages a seed bank and living collections with more than 25,000 accessions of about 18,000 different taxa. These facilities are open for scientific visits as well. Examples of topics are studies related to crop wild relatives, including our large collections on coffee, bananas, cacao and wild legumes (with a large collection of beans). The collections are also important for conservation activities linked to endemic and endangered species from Belgium and D.R. Congo, namely the endemics from copper hills in Katanga.
The living collections hold a wide diversity of plants from all over the world: the outdoor collection has i.a. a wide diversity of temperate trees species; the indoor collection houses a wide (sub)tropical plants (i.a. Rubiaceae, Balsaminaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Cycadaceae and Araceae as well as collections from the Congo Basin).
The large library & archives are also part of the services offered with over 200 000 volumes linked to botany and botanical history. The collections hold interesting documents on the history of the garden and of botany in general.
The scientific and technical expertise of MeiseBG is summarized here as examples of services offered. Interested scientific visitors with a sound research plan, or with novel and innovative ideas on the usage of our collections are encouraged to take up contact. All our facilities listed here, including preserved collections, seed bank, green houses and outdoor living collections, molecular laboratories, microscope facilities, digitization facilities, library and archives are open to applicants. Discover a large part of the collections here : http://www.botanicalcollections.be/
MeiseBG has extensive taxonomic expertise in vascular plants, fungi, lichens, diatoms, macro-algae, and myxomycetes. Furthermore MeiseBG has a significant expertise in activities around alien and invasive species.
Available equipment includes a Scanning Electron Microscope; digital camera facilities for rapid specimen digitisation; digital microscopes with a large depth-of-field for imaging lichens, myxomycetes and seeds; high quality stereo- and bright-field microscopes, as well as laboratory facilities for preparation of plant, fungal and algal material for light or electron microscopy (including sectioning, embedding, staining, and oxidation).
The molecular laboratory includes equipment for processing of Sanger sequencing, and plant genotyping analyses. Standard equipment includes centrifuges, a plate centrifuge for bulk DNA extractions, PCR thermal cyclers, and gel staining facilities. The molecular laboratory has also recently invested in equipment for preparing DNA libraries for high-throughput sequencing including shotgun sequencing, genome skimming approaches and targeted DNA sequencing.
Interested historians can consult letters, photograph collections, including glass plates. It is one of the most important botanical libraries in Europe with valuable complementary archives to the herbaria and living collections.
Finally, MeiseBG has long-term expertise in botanical illustrations, which visitors can benefit from.
If you would like more information on MeiseBG's facilities, please contact the team at synthesys_TA@plantentuinmeise.be