The temperate native terrestrial orchids are endangered species. Their propagation from seeds poses specific problems. It is well known that orchid seeds are devoid of endosperm and in nature they need microscopic fungi in a symbiotic relationship for germination. We developed a successful asymbiotic in vitro culture method for germinating seeds of several temperate orchid species and for maintaining the cultures of young plantlets. The medium used for both germination and seedling culture was a modified FAST medium. Seeds were surface-disinfested for 10 minutes in a 10% calcium hypochlorite solution. After sowing, the cultures were kept under dark condition at 10–12°C for 4 weeks. After that the cultures remained in the dark, but the temperature was raised to 25–26°C until germination occurred. Thereafter cultures required alternating seasonal temperatures: 25–26°C from the beginning of April to the end of September and 17–19°C from October to March. For the development of the young plantlets natural dispersed light and prevailing day-length was favorable. After 2 years of aseptic culture they were suitable for transfer ex vitro. Different stages of seed germination and plant development were observed using a scanning electron microscope and will be included in this presentation. Further observation of the effects of different environmental factors is currently under investigation.
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