692 Plant Embryo Culture Techniques and Applications

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  • 1 Dept. of Plant Science, Univ. of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269

Traditional and biotechnological breeding techniques are being united to develop exciting new plants and to improve existing cultivated plants by introducing natural variability from germplasm resources. Intervarietal, interspecific and intergeneric crosses can be accomplished by using plant embryo culture techniques, sometimes also referred to as embryo rescue. Embryo culture involves the isolation and growth of immature or mature zygotic embryos under sterile conditions on an aseptic nutrient medium with the goal of obtaining a viable plant. The technique depends on isolating the embryo without injury, formulating a suitable nutrient medium, and inducing continued embryogenic growth and seedling formation. The culture of immature embryos is used to rescue embryos from hybrid crosses that were once thought to be incompatible because they would normally abort or not undergo the progressive sequence of ontogeny. The culture of mature embryos from ripened seeds is used to eliminate seed germination inhibitors, to overcome dormancy restrictions, or to shorten the breeding cycle. New and exciting cultivars of Alstroemeria, also known as Lily-of-the-Incas, Inca Lily, or Peruvian Lily, have been bred by using zygotic embryo culture; these techniques and applications will be discussed.

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