New plant tissue culture laboratory opens

We open a new plant tissue culture laboratory at our Northern Research Station near Edinburgh

News from Forest Research: October 2011

NRS plant tissue culture laboratory

The lab aims to establish efficient and reliable protocols for the propagation of improved Sitka spruce tree material by somatic embryogenesis, i.e. the production of multiple embryos and then plants by proliferating tissues removed from seed-derived embryos.

This procedure has not previously been used commercially in the UK for conifers, but will aid the roll-out of the best performing ‘varietal’ Sitka material to the UK’s foresters. The embryogenic tissues can also be cryo-preserved in liquid nitrogen so as to be available indefinitely.

The laboratory is fitted with all the equipment needed for making plant tissue culture media, including a temperature-controlled shaking incubator, a sterilising oven, a water polishing machine for providing the ultra-pure water that this work demands, and two laminar air flow benches for the sterile work itself. The workspace is divided into two parts; one area functions as a ‘clean lab’ where the delicate tissue culture work itself is undertaken, while the second part is a ‘media lab’, where the preparatory work is carried out.

The new facility will greatly improve progress in this key work area. Good success has already been achieved with Sitka spruce, and once we also have full confidence in the cryo-preservation protocols, these approaches could also be applied to other tree species, whether for commercial or conservation needs, or for research into disease resistance. The new lab follows the opening of a new seed research lab at Alice Holt earlier this summer.

Further information on our research into breeding and production of conifers

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This and other news stories can be found in the Autumn 2011 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.