Over the years, several economically important plants have been multiplied and conserved using tissue culture technique in which whole plants are regenerated from parts of plants. However, this technique has not been very successful with palms like coconut palm or toddy palm. Now, researchers from the regional station of ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) at Kayamkulam, Kerala, have developed tissue culture plants of the coconut palm.
The coconut palm is an important cultivated palm in the world, popular for its industrial and commercial applications. In India, it is cultivated mainly in the coastal tracts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Pondicherry, Maharashtra, Lakshadweep, and Andaman & Nicobar.
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At present, coconut palms are propagated through seeds. However, it takes 5 to 10 years for a plant to produce the first harvest. Consequently, crop improvement programs in coconut are time-consuming and tedious. A scientist has to wait 20 to 30 years for releasing a new variety through conventional breeding approaches.
Tissue culture can help overcome this. Even though many people have developed other protocols using various parts of plants like the tender leaf, immature inflorescence, shoot tip, and immature embryo, these lack reliability and repeatability which tissue culturing does not.
CPCRI researchers used tissues from immature inflorescence. The team was able to re-generate rooted plants. Plantlets were similar to the mother plant from which the tissue was taken. This has been confirmed by advanced molecular biology techniques.
“Even though there are reports of in vitro production of coconut plantlets from parts of seeds and embryo, they were genetically not similar to the mother plant. In contrast, all the plantlets produced by our team were similar to the mother plant. Our study will have applications in germplasm conservation and also in the large scale production of cultivars for the farming community, though it needs a few more refinements,” explained Dr Regi J Thomas, who led the research team, while speaking to India Science Wire.
The research team included Dr Regi J Thomas, M Shareefa, JS Sreelekshmi, MK Rajesh and Anitha Karun. The study results have been published in the journal Current Science.
Read the full study: In vitro regeneration of coconut plantlets from immature inflorescence
Biju Dharmapalan is a contributor at India Science Wire.