DATE PALM TISSUE CULTURE
Date palm tissue culture is a rapid clonal propagation (micropropagation) method, where a small piece (explant) of the desired mother plant is initiated under sterile conditions into an in vitro environment, such as a test tube or culture vessel. Under tissue culture conditions, cells of the explant undergo rapid multiplication, ultimately producing many young date palm plantlets, which are genetically identical to the desired mother palm.
WHY DATE PALM TISSUE CULTURE?
The propagation of date palms through seeds is not a reliable method of producing true-to-type plants because no two date palm seedlings are alike. Therefore, in order to preserve valuable rare cultivars, date palms need to be vegetatively propagated to insure true-to-type parentage of the donor palm.
Traditional vegetative propagation of the date palm consists of removing and planting the offshoot from the mother plant. Although reliable, this method is slow, the number of offshoots is limited and it can take decades to generate enough plants to become commercially viable.
Through date palm tissue culture, the number of genetically identical plants regenerated from a single mother stock plant is greatly increased producing thousands, even millions of plants in a shorter period of time.
WHAT IS PLANT TISSUE CULTURE?
The science of plant tissue culture is based on the Theory of Totipotency, where plant cells are considered totipotent, and thus, cells have the genetic information and potential to regenerate an entire plant identical to the mother.
HOW TISSUE CULTURE WORKS:
STAGE I: INITIATION STAGE – [in vitro] – (from field to laboratory)
The explant is taken from the desired donor date palm (in vivo) in its natural environment and initiated into an in vitro environment in the laboratory.
STAGE II: THE MULTIPLICATION STAGE
Once successfully initiated, the explant grows and differentiates, producing many date palm plantlets, which are identical to the donor date palm.
STAGE III: THE ROOTING STAGE
The plantlets from Stage II then enter Stage III where they will develop roots.
STAGE IV: THE ACCLIMATIZATION STAGE – [in vivo] – (from laboratory to field)
The plantlets are removed from the culture vessel, potted and laboratory and acclimatized in a greenhouse for preparation for planting in the field.
BENEFITS OF DATE PALM TISSUE CULTURE:
- SUPERIOR QUALITY DATE PALMS: Plants produced through tissue culture are uniform and are true copies of the elite mother plant, thus preserving the desired quality and traits of the original.
- ACCESS TO RARE CULTIVARS: Through date palm tissue culture, valuable or endangered cultivars, otherwise not available, can be supplied in large quantity.
- SAVE TIME AND MONEY: The use of tissue culture provides the advantage of setting up large scale farms in a shorter period of time than traditional methods, thus greatly reducing the costs of establishing a profitable operation.
- DISEASE FREE PLANTS: Plants from tissue culture are healthy and disease free. They meet international phytosanitary requirements, thus ensuring an easy and fast exchange of plant material between different regions or countries without any risk of the spread of diseases and pests.
- HIGH SURVIVAL RATE: Date palms from tissue culture are fully rooted and ready to be planted in the ground. Field establishment is up to 100 percent successful.
- YEAR ROUND AVAILABILITY: Plant tissue culture allows for year round propagation uninterrupted by traditional seasonal factors. Having year round production makes it possible to supply large quantities of date palms on demand.