2.09.02 - Somatic embryogenesis and other vegetative propagation technologies
The main objective of this Unit on "Somatic Embryogenesis of Forest Trees" is to foster the development and application of somatic embryogenesis (SE) technology in both coniferous and hardwood tree species. Research areas of this unit include: the development and refinement of the SE system for commercially and ecologically important tree species; the application of SE in tree breeding and vegetative deployment in multi-varietal forestry balancing genetic gain and diversity; the use of SE in genetic resource conservation, biotechnology, genomics, molecular biology, and insect and disease resistance; and the study of related disciplines such as cryopreservation and using molecular makers for examining genetic stability and integrity of SE produced plants.
State of Knowledge
Since its first success in conifers (Hakman et al 1985; Chalupa 1985; Nagamani and Bonga 1985), SE has been achieved for many tree species. Important advances have also been made in SE of angiosperm species (Merkle and Nairn 2005) in recent years. Somatic embryogenesis is the primary enabling technology for most tree biotechnology products and offers new opportunities for tree breeding, vegetative deployment, and genetic resource conservation and restoration. It also provides indispensable tools for R&D in biotechnology, genomics and molecular biology. However, an important current application of SE, in conjunction with cryopreservation, is its integration into tree breeding and deployment programs where plants derived from SE are routinely produced. Furthermore, in various parts of the world, SE is commercially implemented in high-value multi-varietal forestry, especially for some Picea and Pinus species. Despite the important advantages it offers, SE is often difficult to obtain or is obtained at a very low frequency for some commercially and ecologically important tree species thus requiring further research and development.