A VERSATILE NEW TACTIC FOR FRUIT TREE MICROGRAFTING

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Illinois, 1201 S. Dorner Dr., Urbana, IL 61801-4720

Micrografting is an effective technique for elimination of viruses, early diagnosis of grafting incompatibilities, rejuvenation of mature tissue, and bypassing the juvenile phase in fruit trees. Current micrografting procedures are difficult, impractical, expensive, and generally result in an inefficient rate of successful graft production. In order to alleviate some of these limitations, a unique apparatus was designed to splice the in vitro-derived scion and rootstock together during the micrografting process. The dual-layer device was constructed with a pliant outer layer to facilitate manipulation during the grafting of micro-scale plants, and a delicate, absorbent inner layer to cushion the plant tissue and retain hormones and other compounds. These chemicals are slowly released at the grafting zone to alleviate oxidation and enhance callus formation at the cut surface of scion and rootstock. After healing, it is easy to remove the grafting apparatus from the grafted plant without damaging the tissues. This apparatus may be used to unite a scion and a rootstock with different stem diameters. Shoot-tip cultures of `McIntosh' and `M-7' apple and `North Star' sweet cherry, and in vitro seedlings of lemon, orange and grapefruit were used as a source of in vitro scions and rootstocks. Successful graft unions were developed, and the grafted plants were transplanted into the greenhouse environment Micrografted plants were sectioned to determine the anatomical characteristics of the graft union.

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