According to the FAO (2008), Iran is second, third, and sixth in global ranking of apricot, almond, peach and nectarine production, respectively. Almost 158,675 ha of plantations in Azerbaijan province (Iran) are allocated to various stone fruits such as almond, peach, nectarine, apricot, etc. (Ministry of Agriculture of Iran, 2007). Despite the economic importance of these orchards, there are very few drought-tolerant rootstocks suitable for grafting the new improved varieties. Therefore, more than 50% of the groves are threatened by drought conditions. Similarly, there are lots of places suffering drought conditions. Thereupon, producing desirable numbers of a new hybrid rootstock that have the promise of tolerating such condition is of great importance.
The HS314 rootstock is a hybrid between almond and peach (Prunus amygdalus × P. persica), which is well adapted to drought conditions (Dejampour et al., 2005). This rootstock that has been bred in Sahand Horticultural Research Station of Tabriz is an appropriate alternative for GF677 and has shown a better tolerance to saline conditions in comparison with GF677 (Dejampour et al., 2009). To produce the required number of HS314 plants, a suitable propagation method is necessary.
Micropropagation is a suitable and fast method for obtaining a large number of genetically identical plants (Antonopoulou et al., 2005). Micropropagation techniques for Prunus species like apricot (Koubouris and Vasilakakis, 2006; Marino et al., 1993; Perez-Tornero et al., 1999), cherries (Pedrotti et al., 1993; Sedlák and Paprštein, 2008; Tang et al., 2001), almond (Ainsley et al., 2001a, 2001b; Channuntapipat et al., 2003; Gurel and Gulsen, 1998; Isıkalan et al., 2008), and some Prunus interspecific hybrid rootstocks like PR 204/84 (Fotopoulos and Sotiropoulos, 2005), GF677 (Kamali et al., 2006), PeMa (Balla and Kirilla, 2006) have been described. The present study was conducted to develop an efficient protocol for in vitro propagation of the HS314 rootstock that may be suitable as a rootstock for stone fruits in drought-impacted environments.
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