Somatic embryos from Eastern redbud show a high degree of malformation during development and a low conversion rate to seedlings. This problem is common with somatic embryo systems, especially with legume species. A procedure for multiple shoot formation from somatic embryo explants of Eastern redbud was developed that bypasses the need for germination to recover plantlets. Somatic embryo explants cultured on DKW medium containing benzyladenine (BA) and thidiazuron (TDZ) produced more shoots than either treatment alone. The highest number of shoots (3.3 to 3.4 shoots per explant) was obtained from partially desiccated and wounded explants treated with a combination of 5 or 10 M BA and 0.5 or 1.0 M TDZ for 20 days before being transferred to the same medium without TDZ. The number of shoots formed was increased from 1.5 to 3.2 shoots per explant by cutting through the cotyledonary node prior to culture. In addition, the frequency of explants forming shoots was increased by desiccation of somatic embryo explants to ≈50% moisture and by using somatic embryos with two well-formed cotyledons as explants.
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