Pilot scale process for the production of pre-germinated somatic embryos of selected robusta (Coffea canephora) clones


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Abstract

The objective was to set up a pilot scale process for robusta (Coffea canephora) industrial propagation by somatic embryogenesis in liquid media. A batch production of pre-germinated embryos was initiated once every 2 mo. in 2003 and 2004, then every mo. in 2005. Each run batch requires 4 to 6 mo. to produce the pre-germinated somatic embryos and consists of three phases: (1) the development of torpedo stage embryos in Erlenmeyer flasks, (2) pre-germination in temporary immersion bioreactors to allow maturation from the torpedo stage to the cotyledonary stage, (3) maintaining the embryos under storage conditions before their shipment to coffee producing countries. Starting from 1 kg of embryogenic calluses, a total of 4.4 million pre-germinated embryos for 17 clones were produced over 3 yr. This embryo number was enough to potentially regenerate 2 million plants, as the global embryo-to-plantlet conversion rate was estimated to 46% after acclimatization and complete germination in the greenhouse. At the end of April 2006, 600,000 somatic seedlings were transferred into plastic bags in nurseries or were already planted in the fields, mainly in Thailand. The current capacity allows the production of 2.5 million embryos per year, equivalent to a potential of about 1.0 million plantlets. The technical package has recently been transferred to National Institutes in Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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