Micropropagation, Decontamination, Transcontinental Shipping and Hydroponic Growth of Cattleya while Sealed in Semipermeable Membrane Vessels

in HortScience
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  • 1 1Dept. of Horticulture, Clemson Univ., Clemson SC 29634
  • | 2 2Dept. of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Clemson Univ., Clemson SC 29634

Two varieties of Cattleya orchids (C. Loddigessi `Elen' × C. Loddigessi Alba `Extra' and Brassolaeliocattleya. Mem. `Helen Brown' Sweet Afton) were micropropagated in sealed, three-dimensional polypropylene vessels with microporous, semi-permeable membrane films to allow diffusion of water, dissolved nutrients, and gas to plant material inside the vessels. During tissue culture on sugar-containing media, chance contaminants were eliminated on the vessels outer surface using 5% bleach solution. Proper decontamination treatment did not effect carbohydrate content or subsequent growth of tissues contained within the vessels. Plantlets remaining in membrane vessels were shipped (7 days at 14–30°C) from Japan to the United States in the dark in a plastic tray and arrived without changes in fresh or dry weight of whole plantlets. However, shoot dry weight did increase significantly. Sucrose, glucose, and fructose reserves established on sugar-containing media were greater in root than shoot tissue and were largely expended during shipping concurrent with increased shoot dry weight. It is likely carbohydrate catabolism provided energy for these CAM plantlets to continue carbon fixation, resulting in positive net carbon assimilation in the dark shipping environment. Changes in starch concentrations during shipping were not significant. Plantlets grew photoautotrophically in hydroponic culture in the greenhouse, following transport in the same sealed membrane vessels. Carbohydrate concentration of plantlets following hydroponic culture was not significantly different than after the shipping process. Sealed-membrane vessels for micropropagation, decontamination, shipping and greenhouse growth were useful for culture of Cattleya to facilitate scale-up of materials handling and international commerce of tissue-cultured plants.