321 Conservation of an Endangered Virgin Islands Orchid Species through Tissue Culture

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  • 1 University of the Virgin Islands, Agricultural Experiment Station, RR2 Box 10,000, Kingshill, VI 00850

The Sandy Point Orchid (Psychilis macconelliae) is listed as an endangered orchid species by the U.S. Virgin Islands Dept. of Planning and Natural Resources. This orchid grows naturally on the southern dry and wind-swept slopes found on the east-end of St. Croix. It can be found growing among cacti and bromeliads. Due to disturbance to the native habitat from land development, private collectors, and natural disasters, the population has diminished. Tissue culture is being successfully used in a conservation effort for this endangered species. Maturing seed pods were collected and surface disinfested and established in vitro. The medium consisted of one half Murashige & Skoog salts, Nitsch & Nitsch vitamins, 20 g/L sucrose, 2 g/L soy peptone, 5 g/L activated charcoal and 8 g/L agar. Seeds were spread on the medium in 15 × 100-mm petri plates and grown at 25 °C under a 16-h photoperiod. Seed germination occurred within 2 months with the development of protocorms. Leaves and roots developed by 5 months, at which time they were separated and transferred to fresh medium. At 8 months, they were established in a greenhouse and released back into their environment within 12 months. In vitro germination of the Sandy Point Orchid seed is an effective way of conserving this endangered species.

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