Chinese cymbidiums are important flowering ornamental plants. Traditional propagation via seed or division cannot satisfy growers’ demand for commercialization of new cultivars, and in vitro propagation has a low micropropagation efficiency due to the browning of rhizomes. In this study, rhizomes of Cymbidium ‘14-16-13’ and ‘14-16-5’ were cultured on half-strength Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium supplemented with 6-benzyl aminopurine (BAP), NAA (α-napthaleneacetic acid), or BAP with NAA under either the dark or light. The degree of browning was read, and rhizome proliferation or sprouting (sprout numbers) was evaluated. Results showed that there was significant difference in browning grade of rhizomes between ‘14-16-13’ and ‘14-16-5’ regardless of dark and light culture. Dark culture induced rhizome proliferation but failed to induce sprouts. Light culture slightly elevated the degree of browning but induced sprouting. Among the growth regulators evaluated, BAP was more effective for sprout induction. As rhizome browning appeared to be inevitable in micropropagation of the cymbidiums, a compromise between browning and sprout production could be a realistic approach. Our study showed that rhizomes cultured on half-strength MS medium supplemented with 1.5 mg·L−1 BAP were able to produce more than 16 sprouts per vessel even though browning occurred in the rhizomes. Thus, culturing rhizomes in this medium could be a practical solution for in vitro propagation of Chinese cymbidiums.
Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo is a famous traditional Chinese medicinal plant. It produces various phytochemicals, particularly polysaccharides, which have nutraceutical and pharmaceutical values. To increase its biomass production and polysaccharide content, our breeding program has generated a series of polyploid cultivars through colchicine treatment of protocorm-like bodies (PLBs). The present study compared two tetraploid cultivars, 201-1-T1 and 201-1-T2, with their diploid parental cultivar, 201-1, in an established in vitro culture system. Tetraploid ‘201-1-T1’ and ‘201-1-T2’ had shorter leaves and shorter and thicker stems and roots, and they produced higher biomass compared with the diploid cultivar. The length and width of stomata significantly increased, but stomatal density decreased in tetraploid cultivars. The PLB induction rates from the stem node explants of the tetraploid cultivars were significantly higher than those of diploid. However, the PLB proliferation of tetraploids was lower than that of the diploid. The mean number of plantlets regenerated from tetraploid PLBs was also lower than that of the diploid after 4 months of culture. Polysaccharide contents in stems, leaves, and roots of 6-month-old tetraploid plantlets were significantly higher than those of diploids. The polysaccharide content in the stem of ‘201-1-T1’ was 12.70%, which was a 2-fold increase compared with the diploid cultivar. Our results showed that chromosome doubling could be a viable way of improving D. officinale in biomass and polysaccharide production.