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Embryonal explants from water chestnut (Trapa japonica Flerov) seeds germinated with high efficiency following a 40-d cold treatment at 5°C on half-strength MS (Murashige and Skoog) medium supplemented with 2.7 μM N6-benzyladenine (BA), 0.5 μM 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) and 0.5 μM gibberellic acid (GA3). Control and chill-treated (different durations) embryonal explants were cultured onto media which contained half-strength MS medium supplemented with different concentrations and combinations of cytokinins [BA, thidiazuron (TDZ), kinetin, zeatin], auxin (NAA) and GA3. A liquid half-strength MS medium with 1.1 μM BA and 0.5 μM NAA resulted in the best shoot proliferation of control or chill-treated explants, and the addition of 0.5 μM GA3 stimulated axillary shoot elongation. Germination and shoot proliferation were always greater for chill-treated explants compared with control explants under the same culture conditions. Shoots produced in vitro rooted 100% of the time in a liquid half-strength MS medium with 1.1 μM BA, 0.5 μM NAA and 1.1 μM indole-3-butyric acid, and the regenerated plantlets were established successfully in a water chestnut paddy field.